Why has their grandmother bothered keeping a menu from a restaurant that closed years ago, a restaurant that never served very good food in the first place? Three cousins listen to Gee's own story, set in the early days of lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, a time when a black child could sit up front in a city bus but still could not get a milkshake at a downtown restaurant. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Abby, young readers see what it was like to live through those days and they'll come to understand that, like a menu, freedom is about having choices. Each book in the series tells the story behind a different 'scrap of time;' together they form a patchwork quilt of one black family's past that stretches back for generations. Although this book is historical fiction, only the family characters are fictional; all locations and events are historically correct. The primary civil rights people that are mentioned are actual people in the civil rights movement. Picture descriptions included.
In this third title in the series, Gee shares with her three grandchildren the story of her aunt Lilly Belle, who kept journals and had a poem published in Crisis magazine. The aspiring author was 12 when she stayed in Harlem with her Aunt Odessa so that she could attend a writing worshop for young people conducted by Zora Neale Hurston. When Lilly Belle discovered that a snobbish classmate plagiarized the work of a published author, she confronted Alice and learned of her troubled home life. The book ends with Gee telling the children what eventually became of the two girls. End matter includes notes on the Harlem Renaissance. This easy-to-read novel has succinct chapters and sentences that, while simple, convey a feel for the characters and the time, and a vivid sense of place.
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