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Taking Care of Moses

Taking Care of Moses

3.0 2
by Barbara O'Connor

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Who left the baby at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church?

Randall Mackey has a secret. He knows who left the baby on the steps of the Rock of Ages Baptist Church. But he can't tell anyone, not even his best friend, Jaybird. And he certainly can't let Jaybird's little sister, Althea, find out because she'd be sure to shout it from the rooftops. Randall


Who left the baby at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church?

Randall Mackey has a secret. He knows who left the baby on the steps of the Rock of Ages Baptist Church. But he can't tell anyone, not even his best friend, Jaybird. And he certainly can't let Jaybird's little sister, Althea, find out because she'd be sure to shout it from the rooftops. Randall can't tell because Queenie Avery was also there, and he wants to protect her. Poor old Queenie seems to be getting more and more forgetful these days. And now that she's begun to wander, folks in town want to send her away, which would break Mr. Avery's heart. While Randall's busy worrying about doing the right thing, everyone in town is discussing who should take care of baby Moses, and it isn't long before a feud breaks out. Randall has to come up with a plan that won't hurt those he most wants to help. And he's got to do it quickly before the situation gets completely out of control.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In the little town of Foley, South Carolina, a young boy has a troubling secret. Does he reveal the name of the woman who left a baby on the steps of his church, or does he remain silent? Randall knows that the whole church is in an uproar over the mysterious appearance of the child, who is called Moses by the preacher's wife. But if he solves the mystery Randall will have to explain why he was near the church that night. After dinner at his friend Jaybird's house, Randall was supposed to go straight home. On the way, he sees his elderly neighbor Queenie wandering around and follows her. Some folks want to send the increasingly forgetful Queenie to a nursing home, but Randall knows that her husband, Mr. Avery, would die of loneliness. If Randall tells the truth, Queenie may be sent away. So Randall is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Every Sunday in the Rock of Ages Baptist Church, the fate of Moses is discussed. The preacher and his wife, who do not have any children, think the baby has been sent to them to care for until the mother returns. Miss Frieda, a local woman who takes care of foster children, thinks she should look after Moses because, in her opinion, the child should be with his own kind. His " own kind" refers to the African-American kind. Weeks drag on; Jaybird's mother moves her family to another church because she agrees with Miss Frieda. The conflict forces the adults to take sides, but Randall and Jaybird remain best friends. The beauty of this young relationship is that it transcends race; the adults can certainly learn a thing or two from these kids. The plot moves quickly in this interesting, heartfelt story. Randall is an endearing protagonist. The othercharacters are vibrant and the storyline is relevant to our times. Compassion, forgiveness, love and friendship are important themes for readers in any age group. 2004, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 7 to 11.
—Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Randall Mackey, 11, has a secret: he knows who left a baby on the doorstep of a local church, but he can't tell because he wants to protect an elderly neighbor. What transpires is a battle between the white minister's wife, who wants the infant, and black Miss Frieda, who is authorized for foster care and believes that the child should be "with his own kind." The tensions that ensue split the black and white communities, and the congregation as well. While Randall's reluctance and indecision are a little drawn out, overall this is a funny and touching story. It shows how barriers between the races can be broken down by simple friendliness, and has plot elements that include child abandonment, the role of the Baptist church in a small South Carolina town, and an examination of summoning up the courage to do what's right. O'Connor sweetens everything with an earthy humor and a great ear, with dialogue peppered with phrases like, "-you take to babies like a snake to a woodpile." Randall's friend Jaybird has a sassy young sister who has some of the best insults in the book, and the dialogue between the friends is right on target. O'Connor's take on situations is psychologically astute; she describes well how children sometimes manipulate the adults around them, and how perceptive they can be about adult secrets.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Randall, 11, is harboring a secret. Exposing the identity of an abandoned baby's mother might not only place this mother of six in jail but also might interrupt the home life of Mr. Avery, who is desperately trying to keep his elderly, confused wife from being taken to a nursing home. Speaking up would confirm Randall's witnessing both the abandonment and Queenie Avery's wandering in town in her night clothes. His silence, however, begins to torment him as the weeks go by and this mixed-race South Carolina town argues over the proper solution to the baby's care. O'Connor has written a well-developed, intriguing short novel with a suspenseful clue-filled story line proposing an ethical dilemma that will keep readers wanting to know the outcome. Randall's best friend and his bratty younger sister provide realistic comic-relief dialogue and child-oriented actions and behavior. Parallel adult roles offer a mature outlook to Randall's clandestine moral questions as he debates and eventually has the "grits and gumption" necessary to do what's right. Good premise and delivery make this a thought-provoking choice for discussion. (Fiction. 8-10)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
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File size:
140 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara O'Connor is the author of several noteworthy books for children, including Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia and Moonpie and Ivy. She lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Barbara O’Connor is the author of numerous acclaimed books for children, including Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. She has been awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Kansas William Allen White Award, the South Carolina Children's Book Award, the Indiana Young Hoosier Award, the South Dakota Children's Book Award, and the Dolly Gray Award, among many honors. As a child, she loved dogs, salamanders, tap dancing, school, and even homework. Her favorite days were when the bookmobile came to town. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and now lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a historic seaside village not far from Plymouth Rock.

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Taking Care of Moses 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jo says no saying youre first because this is supposed to be a fair environment. I say TOO BAD SO FIRST!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks strange