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The Well

The Well

4.6 11
by Mildred D. Taylor

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During a long, dry summer, the Logan boys learn that being men has more to do with using their brains than their fists.


During a long, dry summer, the Logan boys learn that being men has more to do with using their brains than their fists.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taylor's compact novella revisits the long-suffering Logan family, this time focusing on the boyhood of David (father of Cassie Logan from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) In the early 1900s, all the wells in their part of Mississippi have run dry-all except for the Logans'. White neighbors come from miles around to collect water, but despite the Logans' generosity, they treat David and his family with enormous disrespect. When young Charlie Simms's taunting of the Logan boys turns physical, David's older brother Hammer chooses to retaliate-a move that causes him and his family pain from all sides. Taylor, obviously in tune with these fully-developed characters, creates for them an intense and compelling situation and skillfully delivers powerful messages about racism and moral fortitude. This insightful read stands on its own, but will have a special resonance for fans of the series. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
With this book, Taylor brings us a prequel to the saga of the Logan family. Ten year old David and his brother Hammer take us through a dry, hot summer when all the wells run dry except the one on their family's land. In contending with the mean-spirited Simmses, the boys struggle with the undercurrents and overt suspicions that define race relations in the old South, as well as with the heart-rending injustice of the times. The adult characters are finely etched, especially the mother and feisty old grandmother. The persistence of familial history and memories is beautifully delineated. Above all, this is a book about pride. It's hard to put down, as are Taylor's other books, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Let the Circle Be Unbroken.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Several summers ago, I discovered Mildred Taylor's Logan family saga. The Logans are black and landowners, a dangerous combination when living in the Depression era amid the hatred of less fortunate white farmers. I gobbled up every chronicle Taylor had written, looked forward to each new release, and grieved when Taylor's announced that she'd finished the saga with The Road to Memphis. Happily, Taylor's returned to the Logan family in The Well, and jumped back a generation. The novella is set in Mississippi in the early 1900's, during a summer of drought when the Logans are the only family whose water supply has not run out. They share generously with their neighbors, white and black, and everyone appreciates their kindness, except for the Simms family. Charlie Simms, a dangerous, bigoted adult in Taylor's previous stories, is better understood when readers learn about his boyhood. He lives in constant fear of his father's cruelty and compensates by bullying others. Charlie finds his match in the bellicose and prideful Hammer Logan, who's not one to back down from a fight. So begins a summer of struggle where explosions of anger leave the two Logan boys walking a tightrope between life and death. It's a tense, fast-paced, and gripping drama.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6Another contribution to the Logan family saga, this is Father's account of an incident from his boyhood. During a drought in 1910, 10-year-old David Logan's family has the only working well in their part of Mississippi. They share their water willingly with both black and white neighbors, but white teenager Charlie Simms tests their generosity, goading David's older brother Hammer into a fight requiring restitution in the form of labor on the Simms's farm. Charlie and his brother get even for the disgrace of Hammer's beating by secretly contaminating the Logans' well with dead animals, only to be exposed and punished when a neighbor reveals their act. While David narrates, this is really Hammer's story; his pride and steely determination not to be put down are the source of the novel's action and power. Readers will feel the Logans' fear and righteous anger at the injustice and humiliation they suffer because they are black. As in The Friendship (Dial, 1987), Taylor has used her gift for storytelling and skillful characterization to craft a brief but compelling novel about prejudice and the saving power of human dignity.Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Hazel Rochman
"Charlie Simms was always mean, and that's the truth of it." From the first line, this short, intense novel of racist violence is told with the immediacy of a family narrative. David Logan (the father in Taylor's 1977 Newbery Award winner, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry") tells a story of his boyhood in rural Mississippi at a time when "uppity niggers" can be hanged for thinking themselves equal to whites and the horror of slavery still haunts his mother's memory. The Logans are among the few black families to own land, and during a prolonged drought, they have a well of sweet water, which they share with their neighbors, black and white. Most people are grateful, but the white Simms family hates being beholden to blacks. The tense confrontation erupts in beatings and terror. The cast is large for so short a novel--it's hard sometimes to keep track of all the people in the community--but the Logan family is beautifully individualized. David is able to heed his father's warning, "Use your head, not your fists," but David's hotheaded older brother can't bear the constant humiliation. The well of the title is also a metaphor for the history of the place: both the bigotry that lies beneath the surface and the sweet strength of family ties.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Mildred D. Taylor’s award-winning books for children are largely based on family stories that describe the struggles of friends and relatives living in a racist culture. Her second book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, won the Newbery Medal in 1977 and quickly became a middle-grade classic. She has continued her series about the Logan family, most recently publishing The Land.

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