- Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)
- Andrea has been in publishing since 1993; almost 50 books!
- Genre: MG Historical; Monologue Novel
- IGemail@example.com; Twitter-@AndreaDavisPink
- Release Date: 9/22/2020
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Favorite Perspective-Aggie B! At first, I thought it was going to be Roly because I loved his voice but the scrappy nature and attitude that Aggie brings reminds me so much of Black and Brown girls that I know, and even a little of myself!
- Favorite Quote(s)-“Roared, “You can take cracks at my skull, swell my face, break my bones, and shake my confidence. But I will not let you blind the eyesight of my soul!”‘-Aggie B. Rereading that quote brought tears to my eyes in a way I really wasn’t expecting. Thinking of What Our People…what Black and Brown bodies have had to endure and STILL endure to experience some sort of sense of freedom…I couldn’t help but to cry.
First, I would like to say that this post is a part of the Hear Our Voices Blog Tour for Loretta Little Looks Back and I am honored that they choose me to be a part of it (click the link for the schedule). Beneath my commentary, you will find purchase links and more information about the Author, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Illustrator, Brian Pinkney!
For those who know me, know that I’m a HUGE history buff…I’m that girl that sat at her grandpa’s feet and listened to his stories of watching Marian Anderson perform in Haiti, travels around the world and for fighting for civil rights in Haiti and Here in the US once he arrived, which was actually in the 60’s during Aggie’s monologue time period! So reading this book was like sitting at Loretta, Roly and Aggie B.’s feet to listen to their stories. While it was heartbreaking at times, because such is the history of this country, it was also comforting. Whether they chose to stand up or stand down, I felt I was right there with them and understood why they choose the direction(s) in which they went.
I loved the stark contrast of the monologues presented and the varying battles that they had outside of their mutual struggles that stem from being Sharecroppers in Mississippi. There was no way to predict what each character would go through and how they would weather the storm but got to see how they did. They each spoke from their own respective but consecutive time periods so you get to see three different lived experiences but their parallels as well as they are still very much a part of each other’s stories. What was heartwarming, and to be honest filled me with pride, is how they faced their challenges with determination and unshakeable faith. This is definitely the way of Black and Brown people, however, it doesn’t feel any less empowering when we see our people forging ahead rather than standing stagnant.
As a Special Educator, I have to address the fact that a disability is diagnosed in this book and this brought me so much joy. We do not see this very often in MG or YA, especially physical disability. It’s important that kids and families see disabilities reflected in literature as they may not see people with special needs/abilities in their every day lives. It helps to show the differences of others and recognize their humanity…it also helps those individuals and their families to feel seen. I truly believe in uplifting people with special needs/abilities, listening to them and SEEING them for more than a diagnosis that they have but isn’t the summation of their personhood. I hope that all who pick up this book feel especially empowered by this aspect of Loretta Little Looks Back.
Throughout the course of the book, there are gems dropped, whether its a historical lesson/experience or motivating statements. It is one thing to know about a case such as Emmett Till’s murder or the Voting tests & poll tax, but to read it from a character’s perspective is another level of fascinating and exciting, at least for me! While these characters aren’t real, they are still inspired by people who have actually lived (some of Andrea’s family members) and it feels just as real! I definitely learned a few new things while reading this book, which always adds value to a book for me! I also found that a lot of the motivating statements were ones that I really needed in the moment…especially with us still being in the midst of a pandemic and navigating the challenges that come with it. I found myself putting highlighter stickies on a lot of those lines because they struck my Spirit and felt so needed.
I’m really excited to see this book in the hands of kids and all the things that they take away from this book. I hope they (and teachers) choose to act out these monologues and do the deep dives into the history of these narratives. I also hope that they come to appreciate the battles that our elders and ancestors endured for the few freedoms that we see today…as well as feel motivated to speak up for themselves when they feel any of those freedoms are being wrenched away from them. We forget that there were kids that were involved in these eras in our history. Their narratives are just as important as adult’s narratives and deserve the same notoriety. Hopefully, kids will pick this book up and see how important their voices and experiences are & that they should share it with the world no matter who or what tries to deter them.
I would encourage anyone, especially educators, to pick up this book…whether you pick it up for yourself, your favorite kid, your classroom or personal library. It is worth it to have, to read it, listen to the histories of a group of people who were often overlooked and discuss them. So either run to your local indie bookstore, library or click one of the links below to order or pick up a copy of Loretta Little Looks Back!
Happy Reading Bookish Friends & as always sending bookish love your way! Please feel free to find me on the innernets via Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!
From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.
“Right here, I’m sharing the honest-to-goodness.” — Loretta
“I’m gon’ reach back, and tell how it all went. I’m gon’ speak on it. My way.” — Roly
“I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there’s nothing bad about being bold.” — Aggie B.
Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories — beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey.
Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.
Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of nearly 50 books for young readers, among them The Red Pencil and A Poem for Peter, as well as several collaborations with her husband Brian Pinkney, including Sit -In and Hand in Hand, which received the Coretta Scott King Book Award.
Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous books for children, including two Caldecott Honor books, and he has written and illustrated several of his own books. Brian has received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustration and three Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor medals.
The Pinkneys have been named among the “25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” by Children’s Health magazine. They live in Brooklyn, New York.