Walking Home to Rosie Lee

Walking Home to Rosie Lee

5.0 1
by A. LaFaye, Keith D. Shepherd
     
 

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"[This] account of a freed slave boy's search for his mother is distinguished by a vivid narrative voice and page-turning suspense."—Publishers Weekly

2012 Skipping Stone Honor Book

Young Gabe’s is a story of heartache and jubilation. He’s a child slave freed after the Civil War and he sets off to reunite himself with his mother

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Overview

"[This] account of a freed slave boy's search for his mother is distinguished by a vivid narrative voice and page-turning suspense."—Publishers Weekly

2012 Skipping Stone Honor Book

Young Gabe’s is a story of heartache and jubilation. He’s a child slave freed after the Civil War and he sets off to reunite himself with his mother who was sold before the war's end. “Come morning, the folks take to the road again, singing songs, telling stories and dream-talking of the lives they’re gonna live in freedom. And I follow, keeping my eyes open for my mama. Days pass into weeks and one gray evening as Mr. Dark laid down his coat, I see a woman with a yellow scarf ‘round her neck as bright as a star. I run up to grab her hand, saying, Mama?” Gabe's odyssey in search for his mother has an epic American quality, and Keith Shepherd’s illustrations—influenced deeply by the narrative work of Thomas Hart Benton—fervently portray the struggle in Gabe’s heroic quest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set at the end of the Civil War, this account of a freed slave boy's search for his mother is distinguished by a vivid narrative voice and page-turning suspense. Gabe describes the plans of the freed slaves he meets, but his only desire is to find his mother, Rosie Lee, who made pie so good that birds "flew out of the sky to have them a taste," and who wears a scarf "to hide the scar from being dragged for trying to run free." False hopes and disappointments build momentum before a rewarding conclusion brings mother and son together. Debut illustrator Shepherd contributes big, dramatic spreads, thickly painted and filled with the blues of night and the yellow light of fires and lanterns. In her first picture book, novelist LaFaye (The Keening) offers a vision of a compassionate population of freed slaves who offer food and succor to Gabe, who, in turn, recognizes that he's not the only one suffering: "That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them." Ages 7–10. (July)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The Civil War has ended, the slaves have been freed, and now family members who were separated and sold are now trying to find one another. Young Gabe takes to the road with nothing but hope and the memories of his mama. For months he walks and he is helped and befriended by former slaves and freedmen. The rhythm of the text, the use of a repetitive phrase, and terms such as "Miss Dawn" and "Mr. Dark," all draw from the storytelling tradition. The result is a read aloud that feels as if Gabe were sittin' on a porch telling how he found his mama. The story is strengthened by Shepherd's illustrations. Strong brushstrokes in the artwork reflect Gabe's determination. The colors and tones used on each double-page spread reflect Gabe's up-and-down feelings. The gold tones surrounding Gabe and his mother on the last page complement the warmth of the text. While this is specific to a time period, it is also universal for anyone who has been separated from loved ones due to war. Many classroom units will be well-served by this book. Parents and children will cry and cheer together. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Narrated by an African-American boy recently freed from slavery, this moving tale recounts the heartbreaking struggle of those looking to reconnect with family members after the Civil War. Gabe has only the tips of his fellow northward-bound travelers and the sadly overburdened Freedmen's Bureau for assistance in tracking down his mama. He follows one lead after another without success, and readers will wonder whether he will ever find her. They will not be disappointed. Gabe's tale concludes with a prayer that all the other sons and mothers find one another as well. LaFaye crafts a convincing voice for Gabe, conveying a sense of world-weary pragmatism in his sometimes clipped sentences. The book also has a beautiful lyricism that will make for an impressive read-aloud. "I stumbled off down the road, crying for the Rosie I couldn't find. Not in Jasper, not in Chattanooga, not in any other place the rumors of a fine-cooking Rosie took me. Had me thinner than a leaf with the sorrow of it…." Shepherd's richly hued paintings echo both the burden of Gabe's sad journey and the sense of connection he finds with the other travelers he encounters, often shown united by a comforting physical gesture. Though LaFaye's tale about the lingering effects of slavery on families is sobering, this work will be useful in creating context for historical units. The well-crafted narrative and the artist's thoughtful imagery make it a powerful choice.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews

A Southern novelist looks to the Civil War's immediate aftermath in this newly free child's account of a weary search for his mother.

"War's over. Government say we free. Folks be on the move. Getting the feel for freedom. Not me." He joins the large number of ex-slaves who, "all hope and hurry on," have hit the road in search of brighter futures, but young Gabe has a different goal: tracking down his sold-away and only living parent Rosie Lee. Keeping his goal before him like the fixed North Star, he travels for months from Mobile to the "worn-down toes of the Appalachian Mountains," following vague leads from sympathetic listeners and offices of the Freedman's Bureau, enduring hardships and disappointment. Applying paint in thickly brushed impasto, Shepherd views Gabe's world and encounters from a child's-eye height but gives the barefoot, raggedly clad boy a look of hard-won maturity that points to past sorrows and underscores the depth of his determination. His distinct voice will draw readers into caring about his quest and sharing the tide of joy that accompanies his ultimate success: "That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them."

A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

From the Publisher

"[This] account of a freed slave boy's search for his mother is distinguished by a vivid narrative voice and page-turning suspense."Publishers Weekly

"What a treat! The voices truly sing. Brava!"—Nikki Grimes, author of What is Goodbye?

"Applying paint in thickly brushed impasto, Shepherd views Gabe’s world and encounters from a child’s-eye height but gives the barefoot, raggedly clad boy a look of hard-won maturity that points to past sorrows and underscores the depth of his determination. His distinct voice will draw readers into caring about his quest and sharing the tide of joy that accompanies his ultimate success: 'That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them.' A deeply felt narrative."—Kirkus Reviews

"One of the few titles to describe the cruel breakup of family under slavery from a small child’s viewpoint, this honest story also makes clear the anguish of the many loved ones who were lost and never found."—Booklist

"A. LaFaye tells the story in an authentic southern voice, with an emotional arc that tugs at the heart. Newcomer Keith D. Shepherd’s rich acrylic paintings bring the story to life. A truly wonderful pairing of words and pictures."—The Brown Book Shelf

"A read aloud that feels as if Gabe were sittin' on a porch telling how he found his mama. The story is strengthened by Shepherd's illustrations…Many classroom units will be well-served by this book. Parents and children will cry and cheer together." —Children's Literature

"A well-told story related by Alexandria LaFaye and enhanced by the wonderful full-page illustrations of Keith D. Shepherd. Their talents are combined to celebrate the search of 'strength, love, and determination' represented by Gabe’s quest."—Civil War News

"Walking Home to Rosie Lee is written in a naturally cadenced, musical prose style that is both spiritual, Black, and authentic in its sound. Magnificent color illustrations display the vast array of faces and places encountered by young Gabe on his quest to find his mother.…Must read literature."—Midwest Book Review

"Gabe is a relatable character and the story reads like he is talking to a friend. Creating a familiar relationship with the reader, it introduces them to the hardships of the time period, thus producing a perfect opportunity for children to be taught about the tough issues such as slavery, the Civil War, and inequality."—Compass Book Ratings

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933693972
Publisher:
Cinco Puntos Press
Publication date:
08/09/2011
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

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