Witness

Vermont, 1924

i did first meet sara chickering
when i had comings here last year
to be a fresh-air girl in vermont.

pretty quick daddy did have comings after me.
sara chickering made two rooms to be for us
in her big farmhouse
with her dog jerry.
                                               esther hirsh, age 6

willie said:
at the klan meeting last night
the dragons talked about lighting you
and your daddy up
to get them some warmth on a cold day.
you’d be cheap fuel, they said
i turned my back on willie pettibone and walked out of school
without my coat
without my hat
i didn’t feel the cold
i was that scorched
                                           leanora sutter, age 12

they say maple sugar
is becoming as old-fashioned
as the paisley shawl,
but to see esther hirsh suck on a lump,

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her face star-blissed with
sweet delight,
i think that old-time maple,
it’s still all right.
                                 sara chickering, farmer, age 42

we have anti-lynching laws on the books.
but that isn’t why necks
are less often
swinging in nooses.

it is the people
saying no.
                            reynard alexander, age 48

Why were Esther and her father targeted?

Why Leanora?

Why did the adults change their attitudes?

Do people today act that way?

Read Karen Hesse’s book, Witness, to find out.

 

Surviving the Applewhites


“Jake hadn’t been more than two years old when he found how certain words affected people.  It had surprised him considerably, since his parents used those words at home all the time…”

Jake waited in the Applewhite’s porch with 13-year-old E.D. Applewhite while his grandfather, social worker, and the adult Applewhites discussed the terms of his placement (and, they hoped, education).Surviving the Applewhites
Jake pulled a cigarette out of his tee-shirt pocket and ignored E.D.’s information that all 16 acres of their place was smoke free.  When the adults came out of the house:

“The oldest of them, a wiry old man with white hair and a droopy white mustache…headed for the rocking chair in the corner of the porch.   On the way he snatched the cigarette out of Jake’s hand so fast Jake didn’t know what had happened till it was being ground out on the porch floor under the old man’s shoe…

The old man stretched out his hand toward Jake. ‘Zedediah Applewhite… How do you do?’

Jake looked at the wrinkled, spotted, knobby old hand.  He was not about to shake the hand that had snatched one of his last precious cigarettes.

But he didn’t have a choice.  The old man grabbed it and shook it in both of his, nearly crushing Jake’s fingers in an amazingly powerful grip…

When the old man let go, Jake shook his hand to make sure the blood could still get to the tips of his fingers.  Then he said a few of his favorite words, just loud enough to be sure they were heard.

Zedediah Applewhite didn’t so much as blink.  ‘You ought to spend a little time with Cordelia,’ he said.  ‘She’s taught my parrot the French for that.  Spanish, Italian, and German, too.’”                                          Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan.

Broken Soup

“After Jack died, [Mum and Dad] protected themselves by refusing to love us, the kids who still had dying to do. And it fell to us to keep ourselves alive until somebody remembered we were there.”

Then a stranger thinks Rowan dropped a photo negative and Rowan’s new friend develops it.
Broken Soup

What we don’t dare talk about, what we pretend isn’t happening—that’s trouble.

There’s more than a six-year-old’s dropped tray and “broken soup” to be mopped up.

This book may be classified YA, but there’s plenty in it for parents to think about!  I’ll be looking for Jenny Valentine’s other books to see if they are as well written.