Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Night on fire by Ronald Kidd

It is amazing how a well-written story can enable one to see how a point of view that we now know is wrong could have seemed right not too long ago. This book is told from the perspective of a southern Caucasian girl during the heady 1960s and I like the fact that it does not shy away from introducing tough questions. I think sometimes children know more than we think they do  and to shelter them from life's injustices is perhaps not good for their development.

A spirited young girl called Billie Sims lives a typical life in Alabama in the 1960s. The family's longtime maid is called Lavender and although she doesn't always receive the best treatment from them, they would not be able to function without her help. Billie is just at that age when kids begin to question the world around them and she begins to wander into different parts of town despite her parents' admonitions...and much to Lavender's chagrin. This is how she discovers that Lavender has her own life...and her own family.

Fiction such as this is necessary because despite what some would have you believe discrimination is not a thing of the past. This book looks at a time when discrimination was de jure and tries to show the kind of thinking that perhaps still exists in some quarters. Every time I hear someone make a disparaging remark about one ethnic or racial group or the other I am reminded how such thinking is still prevalent and we must do all we can to educate people.
Another positive aspect of the book was the use of non violent protests to achieve aims, very important to remember especially when civil rights for certain groups in our nation are being infringed upon. This book's cover image is very compelling and makes this book perfect for displays and hand selling in the library. In terms of the book itself I recommend it for children ages 9 and above.  This is a good read for African American History Month in particular.

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