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Author: Moses, Shelia P.
When the patriarch of twelve-year-old Bean's sharecropping community dies, Bean gets a lesson in not only what it means to lose someone you love, but also in how his family and friends care for their dead.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 165424
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 63278
Kirkus Reviews (-) (11/15/13)
School Library Journal (01/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (01/14)
The Hornbook (00/01/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2013 Moses returns to the setting of National Book Award finalist The Legend of Buddy Bush (2004) in this heartfelt novel. When Mr. Bro. Wiley, 100 years old and the last slave man in the Low Meadows, finally goes “on home to be with the Jesus” during the summer of 1940, folks are sure torn up about it. Twelve-year-old narrator Bean recounts the “sittin’ up,” or wake, the first he’s attended. There’s a lot to be done to welcome guests into Bean’s house. There’s also a storm on the horizon, fit to land smack in the middle of the sittin’ up, and it could flood the Ole River. The book is heavy with preparations early on; by the time readers get to actual sittin’ up, the stage is set for some memorable scenes. The cast of characters is so colorful—from “loose,” red dress–wearing Miss Florenza to portly Reverend Hornbuckle—that, in spite of the impending disaster, the events are comedic, even laugh-out-loud funny. Bean’s matter-of-fact first-person narration introduces a resilient African American community and the great legacy of a man whose “death changed us all in some way.” - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2014 Moses (author of The Legend of Buddy Bush, BCCB 4/04, etc.) returns to rural North Carolina in 1940 to tell the story of the passing of the last former slave in a small community, the 100-year-old Mr. Bro. Wiley. Bean is on the cusp of manhood, so this is the first time he has been allowed to participate in a sittin’ up, and his best friend Pole is invited to be a flower girl for the funeral, circumstances that make them proud even in the midst of their grief over a man who was like a grandfather to them. The first half of the story becomes attenuated with its extended focus on spreading the news of Mr. Bro. Wiley’s death and making preparations, but then the action picks up with a vengeance at the actual sittin’ up, with a fistfight, a flood that forces everyone, including a 400-pound woman and the coffin, onto the roof, and the untimely birth of Bean’s baby brother in a boat as they struggle to escape the flood waters. Nearly all of the expected Southern stereotypes are present and accounted for here: the unfailingly wise and benevolent former slave, the longsuffering sharecroppers, the fancy stranger who sells liquor to the men and invokes the ire of the women, the outspoken woman and her sassy daughter, the dignified teacher, the well-to-do undertaker, the well-fed preacher, and the haughty, mean-spirited white people. Despite some mild humor in the character depictions, contemporary children will likely find Bean and Pole as bland and apple-cheeked as Dick and Jane in their unflagging desire to be obedient to the strict and arbitrary rules of their parents and to live up to the noble expectations set for them by their elders. The real value here is the evocation of the community and the carefully detailed description of funeral rites and customs from the time period; the explanations for the time-honored rituals for honoring the dead and the young people’s centrality in the group-uniting mourning may garner the interest of young readers more accustomed to being distanced from old age and death. KC - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2014 Gr 5–8—The year is 1940, and Mr. Bro. Wiley of the Low Meadows community near Rich Square, North Carolina, has died. The last man in the area who was born a slave, he was beloved by his friends and neighbors. The Stanbury Jones family, with whom he lived after his wife died, is especially saddened by his death. Three quarters of the book describes in excruciating detail the reaction of individual members of the community to his death and their preparations for the sittin' up. (As was customary, the deceased was returned to the house the day before the funeral so that mourners could view the corpse, say their final good-byes, reminisce about the departed, and enjoy a bountiful meal.) The story is told by Bean Jones, who loved Mr. Bro. Wiley and, at almost 12, is just old enough to attend his first sittin' up. The night of the event, Low Meadows floods and the residents evacuate to the town of Rich Square, where they remain until the waters recede. The whites and the coloreds (the term used throughout the book) work together with the Red Cross to help those affected. This is more of a description than a story of a close-knit community on the verge of major changes in the way African Americans are viewed and treated. There is very little action, and the subject of historical funeral rites will appeal to a limited audience.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.