Literature for children and YA

Friday, November 10, 2006



Taylor, Mildred D. 2001. ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY. Read by Lynne Thigpen. NewYork: Random House, ISBN: 0-8072-1608-9 Reading level: age 8 to 12


This story is about a family in the North during World War II and the beginning of the civil rights movement. The title, ‘Roll of thunder, Hear my cry,’ originated from the song the author sang for his father. This book is based on a story from his father, and relatives. Cassie Logan lived with her brothers, Stacey, Little Man, and Christopher-John, grandmother, and their parents on a farm in Mississippi. The Rogan family was African-American, Papa worked on the railroad to pay taxes and a mortgage on the land they owned. Although they are very independent and strong love-bonded family, they endure severe racism and discrimination from white neighbors. Even schools were separated for white and black people, respectively. Thus, Jefferson Davis County School was for the white, and The Great Faith Elementary and Secondary school was for the black. And, Jefferson Davis School had a school bus for children, but the great Faith school didn’t. One day, some guys at Wallace store lynched and even killed some black people. With the help of Mr. Jamison who is a nice white lawyer, the Logan family decided to boycott the Wallace store, and use Vicksburg store instead. With this boycott, the Logan family experienced many disadvantages. Ma got fired from the school, and Granger threatened Pa to get the land back and tried a lot different ways to do so. One day, Pa was attacked and his leg was broken. Meanwhile, T.J. has made friends with RW and Melvin, and began to steal and cheat. T.J. was also involved when RW and Melvin went into Mr. Barnett’s store to steal a pearl-handled pistol. Mr. and Mrs. Barnett got injured by RW and Melvin, when they witnessed the stealing. When Pa heard about this, and about to leave to check what was going on, Ma saw the cotton field has caught fire. After all, RW and Melvin charged all the faults to T.J. and, although Mr. Jamison tried to defend him, they heard Jim Lee Barnett died with severe injury. And, Stacey’s question, “Papa, could he….could he die?” predicted a tragedy.


Unabridged version of this book has six CDs. The book is read by Lynne Thigpen in a first person narrative and she tried to keep clear pronunciation in an appropriate speed. There were no sound effects or background music. Compared with the book, this audio book has a merit in that we can select a chapter to read and find the part we already read. This story has many incredible historical events, and the book would be a better source to stimulate children’s imagination by drawing the scenes into their minds. After chapter twelve, the author wrote the foreword and sang ‘roll of thunder hear my cry’ provided in the book. In the foreword, the author said “I wanted readers to know this family, based upon my own, and I wanted them to feel akin to them and to walk their shoes.” He also said “I have had to be honest with myself in the telling of all my stories, I realized I must be true to the feelings of the people about whom I write, and I must be true to the stories told.” A good historical fiction story must make the historical period come to life, and Mildred Taylor did.


Booklist (March 1, 1988)

Gr. 5-9. In the midst of the Depression, a black family struggles to keep their land and cope with racial prejudices in their Mississippi neighborhood. Other books based on the author's family include Song in the Trees, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Gold Cadillac, and The Friendship.

Horn Book Guide (October 1, 2001)

This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Newbery Medal book and second novel in the Logan family saga contains a new foreword by Mildred Taylor. Copyright 2001 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.


*About Mildred. D. Taylor

*Discussion questions
What kinds of conflicts are appeared in this story?
How can the white and black people treated differently?

* Suggested Essay Questions


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