|Black dove, white raven|
Author: Wein, Elizabeth
Having moved to Ethiopia to avoid the prejudices of 1930s America, Emilia Menotti, her black adoptive brother Teo, and their mother Rhoda, a stunt pilot, are devoted to their new country even after war with Italy looms, drawing the teens into the conflict.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 5.80
Points: 16.0 Quiz: 177939
Kirkus Reviews (01/15/15)
School Library Journal (03/01/15)
Booklist (+) (03/15/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (06/15)
The Hornbook (00/05/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2015 Gr 8 Up—In her latest World War II-era novel, Wein returns to themes of aviation and the enduring bonds of platonic love and friendship. Best friends Rhoda, a white Quaker, and African American Delia were "barnstorming" pilots, a team who performed in air shows across the United States as White Raven and Black Dove, their children, Emilia and Teo, in tow. When Delia is killed in a plane crash, Rhoda commits to fulfilling Delia's dream for Teo—to live in a land where he wouldn't be judged by the color of his skin—and moves them all to Ethiopia, where Teo's father was born. Life on the coffee farm at Tazma Meda is wonderful, especially since Rhoda is teaching the children to fly, but rumors of invasion by Italy become reality, and bureaucratic snafus mean that the family can't leave the country. Then the war becomes even more personal when all young men of Ethiopian heritage are conscripted. Wein continues to present multidimensional characters within her effortless prose. VERDICT Highly recommended for all libraries, especially where her previous titles have flown off the shelves.—Stephanie Klose, School Library Journal - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/15/2015 *Starred Review* A good piece of historical fiction is a taut balancing act, and Wein walks a high-wire in her latest. Deftly weaving in details about the Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, she traces the stunning story of Teo and Emilia, not related by blood but as good as brother and sister, who came to live in Ethiopia in 1930, just as tensions begin to build between the free African nation and the Italians occupying neighboring Eritrea and Somaliland. Told through their essays, journal entries, flight logs, and a series of adventure stories they authored together, Em and Teo’s story is presented as an entreaty to the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, in a brazen attempt (helped along by Em’s gift of a stolen Italian plane) to guarantee their safe departure from the country after the war escalates to dangerous heights. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Teo and Em had an unconventional childhood. They grew up on the road in the U.S. with their inseparable mothers, African American Delia and white Rhoda, who performed a high-flying daredevil act as Black Dove and White Raven. The barnstorming foursome is mostly content, but Delia and Teo, whose late father was Ethiopian, face prejudice in America and long for life in Ethiopia, where Teo can be treated with respect and even honor. Moving to Africa is a long, complicated process, but it becomes even more complicated when Delia is killed in an accident. Rhoda, utterly heartbroken by her flying partner’s death, is left to raise Teo and Em, whose Italian father is stationed in East Africa, on her own, but she still holds tight to Delia’s dream, determined to bring Em and Teo to Ethiopia to prove Delia’s idea is a good one. And at first, it is. In their new home at Beehive Hill Farm, a cooperative coffee plantation, Teo and Em have a stable community, go to school, and write extensively, from essays recounting their experiences to comics-inspired, high-flying adventure stories starring their fictional personas, Black Dove (Teo), who can render himself invisible, and White Raven (Em), who is a master of disguise and derring-do. But the fantasy of their adventure stories can’t hold water forever, and their romantic vision starts to crack. Ethiopia is certainly better for Teo, who is not threatened with violence or prejudice because of the color of his skin, but it’s not an easy place for outspoken Em, since “it was a lot harder being a girl in Ethiopia than it was in Pennsylvania.” And though they find an easy home at Beehive Hill, elsewhere in the country they’re ferenji, or foreign. But nothing is as destructive, of course, as the growing threat of Italian invasion and Haile Selassie’s conscription of all Ethiopian men, which puts Teo, who is Ethiopian by birth, in real danger. War really comes home to Teo and Em when Rhoda starts teaching the teens to fly on their own. After Delia’s death, Rhoda swore that Teo and Em would never pilot planes, but to protect Teo, she changes her tune: Ethiopia’s troops, armed with spears and machetes, were hopelessly unprepared for the Italian air force, and a pilot’s license means Teo would never face ground combat. As the war builds to a frightening crescendo, Wein truly demonstrates her masterful hand. While subtly remarking on the politics of the conflict and touching on key historical events, she keeps the narrative firmly grounded in Teo and Em’s experiences, in particular their growing anger not only over the Italian invasion but the dream their mothers got so wrong. Em and Teo are beautifully well-rounded characters, and the confessional quality of the writing is the perfect vehicle for their complex, changing feelings about Ethiopia and what constitutes a home. Is it family? community? faith? country? heritage? Wein never lands too heavily on any one in particular. Rather, she emphasizes how interweaving complexities create robust but fraught lines of connection that carry tremendous power: “Spiderwebs joined together can catch a lion.” Like Em and Teo’s tangled history, Ethiopia’s is an intricate crosshatch of tradition, progress, conflict, and rich heritage, and Wein gracefully pilots both piercing stories, highlighting the unique circumstances of Ethiopia in the 1930s and the ubiquitous experience of two teens trying to find their places in the world. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2015 Emilia Menotti and Teodros DuprŽ are growing up without fathers, but their larger-than-life mothers more than compensate. A barnstorming aviator team in 1930s America, Rhoda Menotti and Delia DuprŽ are enough of an oddity, but the fact that they are a mixed race team (Rhoda is white; Delia is African American) further complicates both their relationship and their career. Their bond, though, is unbreakable, and when Delia is killed in a freak bird-strike accident, Rhoda not only commits to raising Teo as her own son but also to fulfilling Delia’s dream of emigrating to Ethiopia, which under the reforms of Haile Selassie seems to hold the promise of personal liberty that the United States does not offer. Momma sets up shop as a pilot and aerial photographer, but the grim reality of the family’s newly adopted land becomes painfully clear when Mussolini sends in his air force with intent to occupy the country, and incomplete internal reforms expose Teo’s legal status as a slave. Wein describes a fascinating period of hope and challenge, but the various political threads are presented as mini history lessons stiffly embedded in characters’ conversations. The novel’s structure-a packet of essays, stories, and flight log commentary sent by Em to Haile Selassi in an effort to secure Teo’s freedom-add unnecessary complication to an already intricate story. Moreover, the first half of the novel deals mainly with family background and the grief about Delia’s death; not until the second half does Em’s and Teo’s story gain traction. When it does, though, the action becomes thoroughly gripping, as the aviation skills learned from their mothers become both their burden and their salvation. A closing note comments on Wein’s fictionalization of Ethiopian history and of actual persons who inspired characters in the tale. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.