May 15, 09
Stuck in the middle of a family of ten kids in small-town 1917 Alabama, and believing his dad can't even remember his name, 12-year-old Dit Sims is really looking forward to making friends with the new postmaster's son. Problem is: the train rolls into town and the new kid steps out in shiny new shoes and a fancy dress: a girl. And black. And, as it turns out, brainy and not into sports, as if being a girl and black weren’t problem enough. Unexpectedly (to him, not to the reader), Dit and Emma become friends fairly quickly in spite of their many differences, through a charming and thoroughly believable chain of encounters. However the town is hardly supportive of an interracial boy-girl friendship, and Dit will have some hard lessons to learn about his community and the price of loyalty. Dit is a marvelous narrator and this is a lovely, thought-provoking story. A subplot is strongly reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, which classic story is definitely a touchstone for this book, from the setting and race relations aspects to the consideration of the morality of bird-hunting. A great choice for middle-school readers and adults too. Thanks to Heather for recommending this book to me.