School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 4-6-Although 11-year-old Nellie Lee takes after her Mama's folks and "could pass," she proudly says "color me dark." Through the child's diary entries, McKissack explores the racism that existed in post World War I Tennessee, where a lighter skin was considered "better" than a darker one. In fact, a major story line involves Nellie Lee's sister, Erma Jean, as she learns to treasure her darker color. When Uncle Pace, returning from the war, is found badly injured, the family suspects the worst but can't prove it, and Erma Jean suffers hysterical muteness. His death propels Nellie Lee's father to join the Great Migration north to Chicago in search of a better life. The family discovers that although they do not face the Klan there, racism still exists, even within the black community. McKissack deftly explores the social unrest between blacks and whites and the social stratification within the black community, where newly arrived southern blacks were looked down upon by the more affluent residents. The time period is well developed, and serves as a compelling backdrop to the Love family's struggle to find a place. Nellie is a feisty and loyal protagonist, and although her voice sounds a bit mature for an 11-year-old, her observations carry the story line and interpret the action in a believable way. Secondary characters are distinct and add a richness to the telling.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.