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A stunning feat of original storytelling from the recipient of the 2018 John Steptoe New Talent Author Award
In a boldly transportive original tale, David Barclay Moore infuses history with wry folk wisdom, metaphorical power, and a splash of magic. The Civil War may be over, but times are not substantially improved for the freed Black citizens of Walkerton, Georgia, who are shunned by the white folks of the surrounding towns. One day, though, ol' Rootilla Redgums and her grandson, Julius Jefferson, arrive. Rootilla teaches the citizens of Walkerton how to make all sorts of beautiful things, and the white people can't get enough. But some aren't so happy. When a hooded mob threatens to burn down the town, Julius and Rootilla must work wonders to protect Walkerton and its people—even if it means moving heaven and earth itself. With exquisite cinematic illustrations by John Holyfield and a generous trim size, this portrait of Black endurance draws on the rhythms and traditions of African American storytelling to open a powerful window into the past.
About the Author
David Barclay Moore, an author and filmmaker, won a John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for his debut novel, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, which was optioned as a film by Michael B. Jordan. Born and raised in Missouri, he has done work with Sony, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Quality Services for the Autism Community. David Barclay Moore is based in Brooklyn.
John Holyfield is a renowned fine artist and illustrator of numerous books for young readers, including Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham, Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens by Nina Noland, and The Hallelujah Flight by Phil Bildner. John Holyfield lives in Virginia.
Merging history and magic, this is a tale like no other. . . . this tale is full of whimsy and wordplay, and is an excellent read-aloud. The illustrations, done with paint on canvas, beautifully complement the storytelling voice. Using the angle of the light, magic becomes visible to the reader. . . These heroics read like a classic folktale. With delightful text, and beautiful artwork, it is one not be skipped.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Holyfield’s (Hammering for Freedom) bold, painterly illustrations use skewed scale and perspective to add drama and motion to each spread, while Barclay Moore’s (The Stars Beneath Our Feet) realistic account of anti-Black racism is imbued reassuringly with the supernatural as a means of a Black community’s enduring and escaping oppression.
Each page turn brings fresh delights via the engaging acrylic paintings that create drama through the use of various perspectives. . . compelling.
A folksy original yarn. . . Holyfield’s warm, richly detailed country settings give way to aerial views of the town gliding grandly through grassy woodlands and salt marshes.
Moore’s original folktale is beautifully illustrated in Holyfield’s signature style and is sure to become a classic.
—The Toledo Blade
Illustrator John Holyfield uses various perspectives and color palettes to fill the pages with exquisite detail and poignant emotion via expansive, expressive illustrations. . . this original tale can hold its own among the classics.
—School Library Connection