A Thousand Never Evers

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Overview

IN KUCKACHOO, MISSISSIPPI, 1963, Addie Ann Pickett worships her brother Elias and follows in his footsteps by attending the black junior high school. But when her careless act leads to her brother’s disappearance and possible murder, Addie Ann, Mama, and Uncle Bump struggle with not knowing if he’s dead or alive. Then a good deed meant to unite Kuckachoo sets off a chain of explosive events. Addie Ann knows Old Man Adams left his land to the white and black people to plant a garden and reap its bounty together, ...
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Thousand Never Evers

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Overview

IN KUCKACHOO, MISSISSIPPI, 1963, Addie Ann Pickett worships her brother Elias and follows in his footsteps by attending the black junior high school. But when her careless act leads to her brother’s disappearance and possible murder, Addie Ann, Mama, and Uncle Bump struggle with not knowing if he’s dead or alive. Then a good deed meant to unite Kuckachoo sets off a chain of explosive events. Addie Ann knows Old Man Adams left his land to the white and black people to plant a garden and reap its bounty together, but the mayor denies it. On garden picking day, Addie Ann’s family is sorely tested. Through tragedy, she finds the voice to lead a civil rights march all her own, and maybe change the future for her people.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred review, Publisher's Weekly, June 9, 2008:
“References to significant historical events add authenticity and depth, while Addie's frank, expertly modulated voice delivers an emotional wallop.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly

Set in rural Mississippi during the civil rights movement, this gripping first novel offers an up-close look at the racism and violence endured in an African-American community. By the time Addie Ann Pickett, the narrator, enters junior high, she is well aware of the racial divisions in her county. She has been warned not to stay on the white side of town after the sun has set and not to "look at white folks too close." But her older brother and the local minister have different ideas and argue that "there comes a time when a man's dignity's worth more than his life." Caught between her mother's rule to stay away from trouble and the call to take action, Addie must make decisions, especially when the lives of two family members are at stake. References to significant historical events (Medgar Evers's assassination, the March on Washington) add authenticity and depth, while Addie's frank, expertly modulated voice delivers an emotional wallop. Ages 9-12. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KLIATT - KaaVonia Hinton
When the mayor of Kuckachoo, Missippippi learns that the Supreme Court has declared that segregated schools are illegal, he boasts, "Integration here?...That ain't nothin' but a thousand never evers!," indicating the feelings of most of his constituents. This is the climate that 7th-grader Addie Ann Pickett is growing up in. The year is 1963; Medgar Evers has recently been gunned down, four girls died during a church bombing, and the Mississippi voter registration drive known as Freedom Summer and the passing of the Civil Rights Act are only a year away. Though Addie's community is divided by race, a few people like her brother, Elias, and Old Mr. Adams are trying to change that. Elias stands up against injustices, even when it nearly costs him his life, while Mr. Adams tries to use his will to unite blacks and whites in the community: "I leave my land to all the people of my community. Together whites and Negroes shall plant a garden." Of course the whites ignore the will, and someone, possibly in an attempt to fight back, destroys the garden. The Southern adages and folk philosophy (e.g., "Clean folks don't want to get dirty") used in the book add flavor and authenticity. Readers may have to suspend disbelief at some of Addie's actions (e.g., she rallies an entire community to march to a jailhouse to protect her uncle), and they may have to be patient if the plot seems familiar. Nevertheless, this first-time author has created a likeable main character that young adolescent girls can connect with. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Burg's debut novel draws on her own white, Jewish family's passionate involvement with the Civil Rights movement to create the story of eleven-year-old Addie Ann Pickett, whose family and world shatter from explosive racial hatred in fictional Kuckachoo, Mississippi, during a few intense months of 1963. When Addie thoughtlessly stares at a white woman's hat, white thugs threaten to torture to her beloved cat; her older brother intervenes to save them, and the ensuing violence leads to his disappearance, and presumed death. Then Addie's family faces a second devastating loss when her Uncle Bump is accused of a plot to destroy the town's community garden, left in an eccentric old man's will to black and white alike, but usurped by the greed and racist entitlement of the whites. Addie Ann narrates the story in a convincing southern voice, emerging as a believable and likeable heroine, as concerned with whether she can find anything to talk about to Cool Breeze Huddleston as they walk the three miles each way to "County Colored" school as with the momentous events of the time. The plot line of the garden's destruction through an invasion of butter bean plants, and the subsequent elaborate trial to determine the "heinous" bean-planting criminal, feels a bit droll and contrived for the otherwise horrific seriousness of the story, but perhaps it brings needed, if uneasy, comic relief. Burg's novel provides another shocking witness to the not-so-distant evils of our painfully racist past. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8- Burg's debut novel, set in 1963, is told through the eyes of Addie Ann Pritchett, a seventh-grade African American. She finds herself embroiled in the Civil Rights Movement that affects her family and her little town in the Mississippi Delta in profound and personal ways. To start, there's the death of the richest man in town, who bequeaths his land to everyone in Kuckachoo so that, "together whites and Negroes shall plant a garden." Addie and her mother work as household help for a young couple in town, where the girl overhears hateful remarks made by members of the Garden Club, who have no intention of sharing the produce from Old Man Adams's land across racial lines. Meanwhile, Addie's brother accidentally breaks the leg of a white bully who is tormenting her cat and flees into the bayou. Elias disappears and is feared drowned. Weaving in and out of these serious concerns are the normal insecurities of a girl on the brink of adolescence. Addie's relationships with her family and friends are interesting and well developed. The civil rights issues that come to a head as Addie's uncle is arrested and in danger of being lynched will make the injustices of the era vivid for today's readers. The protagonist moves from protected innocence out to the larger, often-threatening world and finds strength in her family, her community, and herself. This is not a perfect book-some of the dialogue seems stiff-but it is a compelling story that doesn't oversimplify complex situations.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

Kirkus Reviews
Until now-1963-in Kuckachoo, Miss., Addie Ann Pickett never thought much about how unfair things are. She just figured that's the way life is, and she couldn't do anything about it. But she's becoming more aware of the outside world: Medgar Evers has been shot, four young girls were killed in Birmingham and now her older brother is missing, a possible victim of racist violence. Addie Ann has to grow up quickly, use her head and learn to take a stand for what's right. Burg offers a sensitive portrait of a young girl and her family, never letting the larger history of the civil-rights movement overwhelm the particulars of this one place in time. The threat of violence is palpable, and the relationships among the residents of Kuckachoo-white and black-are realistically drawn, dramatizing both the legacy of racism and the hope of community. Addie Ann's story will help young readers realize that "You're never too young to speak up for justice and lead by your own example." (author's note, afterword, chronology) (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739367407
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/10/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 6.02 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Shana Burg

Shana Burg’s debut novel, A Thousand Never Evers, was inspired by her father’s role as a lawyer in the civil rights movement. To write this novel, she conducted scores of interviews, read old newspapers and magazines, listened to oral histories and the blues, memorized endless gardening facts, hired her former middle school students to edit her manuscript, and baked butter bean cookies. Shana lives with her family in Austin, Texas.

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Read an Excerpt

June 12, 1963
Now get this: there's a boy in Jackson so rich that when he finished high school, his daddy bought him a brand-new car. At least that's what I heard. In my family, we don't have that kind of money, but my uncle gives a whole dollar to any Pickett who graduates Acorn Elementary School. It's tradition.
So here I am, soaring through the sky on my swing that hangs from the oak tree, when Uncle Bump calls out the door of his shed, "Go on. Get your brother. He'll take you." He stretches a dollar bill between both hands and I jump right off. Sure it's not enough for a car, but that dollar can buy a whole lot of good, like twenty Hershey bars. After my brother graduated elementary school, he bought a baseball. But I'm not going to waste my dollar on something dumb. I want something important, like dye to turn my flour-colored dress new for the first day of school.
"Mama will be proud you're spending your dollar to make a bright impression at County Colored," Uncle Bump tells me.
"It's West Thunder Creek Junior High School," I tell him, and stuff the dollar into my sock. Sure I'm going to the Negro junior high school, but a school's a school. Folks should call it by its proper name and make it sound important.
"Don't dillydally, Addie Ann," Uncle Bump says. He pulls the harmonica out of his pocket and blows a chord. And it's real good to hear him sound those notes, because ever since our boss, Old Man Adams, got the whooping cough, Uncle Bump hasn't had time to play music. "Mama's bringing home some hen tonight," he says. Then he sinks down on the steps of his shed and slides that harmonica across his lips.
***
I'm heading across the tracks to the white side and I reckon some furry company won't hurt. My cat, Flapjack, and me have a secret code. When I whistle and click my tongue twice, he comes running. Tweet, click, click. Tweet, click, click. Other folk think it's magic, but here he comes, dashing across the pine needles, purring as he threads a figure eight round my ankles.
When we pass Brother Babcock's chicken shack, my stomach growls. And when we get to Daisy's Dry Goods, I kick up the dirt on the path, because I've been itching to buy a real new dress in there, but right about now, we don't have the money.
As always, once we cross the railroad tracks everything seems whiter and brighter, and I don't mean just the people who live here. The fresh-painted shingles and the white picket fences gleam in the late-afternoon sun. Even Flapjack's tan fur lights up a fiery orange. And my feet are glad to walk on pavement.
By the time we get to the edge of Mr. Mudge's place, the sun's diving into the horizon. Flapjack and me pass by Mr. Mudge's greenhouse and his stable full of cows and pigs, on the way to his farm where my brother works. "Now don't squish the squash," I tell Flapjack before we head across the leafy rows to meet Elias, who's bent like a rainbow over the tomatoes. He's been working this land since he was five.
"Uncle Bump says you've gotta take me to get the dye," I say, and hold up the dollar to prove it's true. But Elias stares straight past me like I'm not even here. Mama always says he's "half legs, half smile," but today his grin is gone. His eyes are sad and distant.
"What's a matter?" I ask. He's probably worried up about getting into college, so I tell him, "I bet you'll even get a scholarship to Morehouse. Then I'll come to Georgia and visit you and we'll--"
"Shut up," he says.
Usually Elias doesn't live on the edge of his mind like me, so right about now I don't know what to think.
"Don't you know 'bout Medgar?" he asks.
"What's that?"
"Medgar Evers got shot. Down in Jackson. Late last night. Someone killed . . ." His voice stretches and tightens. Then he swipes the side of his hand under his nose. That's what he does when he gets close to tears. Usually it stops them from sliding down.
Here one guy I never heard of gets shot dead, and now my brother's all ripped up and I'm just about crazy. "He a friend?" I ask.
"No."
"He owe you money?"
"No!" Elias rolls his eyes.
"Well, if he ain't a friend and he don't owe you money, what's a matter?"
"Don't you know anything?" he asks.
I turn away. Elias knows I know something. Otherwise, why did I get the highest score on the geography quiz in the whole sixth grade? Okay, sure there are only four kids in the sixth grade at the Negro elementary school, but still, a ninety-six is a ninety-six. I want to remind Elias of this but my throat squeezes shut. I swipe my hand under my nose but my tears get out anyway.
My brother puts his hands on my shoulders, tries to turn me round. "Sorry," he says. "Sometimes I forget you're a little kid."
"Seventh grade's not little," I tell him. Then I blink a lot to get the tears to stay inside. "Now come on. Tell me! Who's this Edgar Mevers?"
"His name is Medgar Evers," Elias says. "He's from the movement."
I nod so my brother will think I know what he's talking about. But I wonder why he can't answer my questions plain and simple. If he's so smart, why doesn't he tell me this: Why do they call it the movement? How can he swipe under his nose and stop crying? And why did Medgar Evers's mama give him such a silly name?
"Well, someone killed him," Elias says, and looks away again. "Left three young children without a daddy."
I reckon Elias probably knows how those poor children feel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2008

    A Great New Book for Young People...and Adults!

    I loved this book. I heard it as a book on CD and it kept me company over the course of a week of driving. I could not wait to get back in the car to hear the next chapter. The book is beautifully written, suspenseful, truthful and deep. Burg has gotten into the heart of Addie Ann Pickett and then Addie Ann jumps right into YOUR heart. You build a relationship with Addie Ann as she faces the indiginities and injustices of being a young black woman in Mississippi at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. Her griefs and her bravery, her developing wisdom and power all give respect and tribute to a young person in a way not often seen in literature for young adults. Young people will love the book because it affirms the intelligence and courage of a young person having to face the unfaceable. But Addie Ann does it with humor and a zest for life which keeps the reader enthralled. Adults will also delight in this book. With embodied language bringing you RIGHT THERE, a lyrical style and great feeling, it has a moving and exciting story line,is true to history and well researched - but most of all -it's a GREAT READ.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    Wow

    I am 23 and read this book along with my 11 year old little sisters. I absolutely loved the book, and here is what my little sister had to say: I liked the book a whole lot and can't wait for the next one. And it was cool being set during the Civil Rights Act. I just love your book. I like it in every way. I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to reading another one. I could read this book every day for the rest of my life. 'A Thousand Never Evers' is a great book for young adults, as well as adults of all ages. This book was historically accurate, spiritually uplifting and beautifully written. I found myself running through a gauntlet of emotions- I laughed, teared up and felt Addie Ann's struggles and success.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2008

    Important, Powerful and Beautifully Written

    A Thousand Never Evers is an inspirational and beautifully written story about a young girl's changing perspective as she lives through the oppression of segregation and racism so pervasive in the South in 1963. This story not only depicts the injustice that Addie Ann and her family faced, but it also gives hope and inspiration as it describes the bravery and strength of individuals to change the world during the Civil Rights Movement. This book is truly important with wonderfully developed characters and a compelling story line. It provides tremendous historic insight and reminds readers why it is so very important to stand up for what is right.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Great book

    thr book is not fast paced, but it is very good and really shows you what african anericans were treated like back then.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Read!!!!!

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    J

    K

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Skyring

    Runs in thro the door uug again realy bad badger go back to your tribe and stay thr untill i get thr now. Thn he walk up to the fallen cat picks him/her and thm to a near by river. Thn he lays the body diwn in the river to let it begin itd long jorny to a new beguning. U lived well my friend i will meet u in starclan very very soon. After he walks over ti the vaders tribe to talk with clef the murderus badger

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Everforest

    Haha jk just rping...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Heartbreaking but Very Good

    This book is very sad about how whites used to treat blacks, but it is very very desribtive. And I recommend it to all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2011

    An enchanting book

    This book is a great one. I had it for a book club and when I heard that it was about civil rights I wasn't too excited. Let me tell you I wasn't right. As soon as I started I couldn't stop. A Thousand Never Evers is an amazing Book. A great book to read in February. An enchanting book

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    great book

    this book is suspenceful,agonizing, and will keep you up all night. it is about a girl and the sacrafices she has to make to find her brother.

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    Posted July 18, 2012

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    Posted August 29, 2013

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