In this holiday story set in 1943, Leanna, an African American girl in Chicago, and her older cousin Elizabeth in Washington, D.C., look forward to their respective Easter celebrations. The joys of black patent-leather shoes and hats with ribbonsde rigeur for the promenade to churchare mingled with the more serious concerns of tight finances and Elizabeth's father, who is off fighting in the Second World War. Greenfield's careful, emotionally astute writing convincingly portrays the girls' viewpoints and takes an original approach to the arrival of a long-awaited letter from the front: Elizabeth "sits across the room from her mother, facing away from her. She wants to be alone and try to hear her father's voice." Gilchrist, who previously collaborated with Greenfield on For the Love of the Game, contributes realistic, smudgy sepia drawings in the oval format of old photographs. The last one uses a burst of color to convey the excitement of the parade for little Leanna. This petite, Easter-egg-bright book would add a sweet-spirited and affecting touch to a holiday basket. All ages. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Easter Parade, Eloise Greenfield and Jan Spivey Gilchrist have created a little treasure of a book. Greenfield tells the story of how two cousins, little Leanna in Chicago and Elizabeth in Washington, D.C., prepare for and experience the Easter Parade in the spring of 1943. Leanna's excitement about this parade is balanced by Elizabeth's sadness and fear for her father, who is fighting in World War II. As Easter draws near, each girl assembles her outfit to wear in the parade and anticipates the upcoming holiday in a different way. The female characters in this story (acting as mothers, daughters, cousins, sisters, aunts, and godmothers) show strength, tenderness, and support for each other. Jan Spivey Gilchrist's sepia-toned graphite illustrations beautifully capture the girls' emotions and deepen the story. Easter Parade is a lovely, moving story filled with hope and strength.
Children's Literature - Eileen Hanning
Gr 1-3--Leanna, an African-American child living in 1943 Chicago with her parents and brother, is mystified by the term "parade." She daydreams about marching bands, but is told that this event will be different. As a special treat she is allowed to telephone her cousin in Washington, DC. Elizabeth's father is in the army, and she and her mother are worried because they have not heard from him in many weeks. As both families prepare their outfits for Easter Sunday, good news comes from Leanna's uncle, and the holiday becomes a time of pride and happiness for both children. Presented in brief chapters, the simple, touching story captures both the delight of the little girls in their Easter finery and the closeness of loving families in times of joy and fear. The contrasts between life during World War II, with its shortages, anxieties, and simple pleasures, and that of today should be of interest to perceptive young readers. The realistic, brown-toned illustrations in oval frames are reminiscent of the rotogravure newspaper pictures of that era. The final illustration, however, is in warm colors and shows Leanna's smiling family stepping out in their Easter outfits. The book's small size, elegant typeface, and unusual pictures enhance its visual appeal and suit the gentle story.--Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Against the backdrop of World War II, young Leanna in Chicago and Elizabeth in Washington, D.C., prepare for an Easter parade. The year is 1943, and although the cousins are separated by many miles, they are bound by ties of kinship. In her pale-yellow frame house, Leanna plays with her doll as her mama makes a dress for a customer. "I've got to get started on your dress in a day or two," Mama says. In her red-brick rowhouse, Elizabeth and her mother wait apprehensively for a letter from Elizabeth's father, who is off fighting in the war. A long-distance telephone call connects the cousins across the miles. Animated dialogue and sensory detail bring the recollection to life: the click-click of the sewing machine, the ringing of the telephone, the wistful, dreamy sound of Leanna saying the word parade over and over again. Written skillfully in the present tense, Greenfield's lyrical prose evokes a warm tone and depth of character and circumstance. Jan Spivey Gilchrist's expressive sepia-colored illustrations, like the words, bring forth the interior lives of the characters. In oval frames, the illustrations become cameo photographs from the family album. Only the final illustration at the Easter Parade is in color. The prettily designed book is a testament to family love that sustains and emboldens.