Little Catfish knows that something is missing from his street. For one thing, there are hardly any stores—his grandma has to take two city buses to the market—and there is only one lonely tree left standing on the block. Even the Regal Theater is run-down. Little Catfish's friend Mr. Odell says that the biggest stars used to appear at the Regal, including the legendary Paul Robeson. Now it's only a shabby community center.
But what if Little Catfish can fix whatever's missing? What if he and Mr. Odell can find a hero to help, one who can do just about anything, like Paul Robeson? "Yeah, right," say the older boys who claim the street as their own. Yeah, right.
But one early summer day, directly outside the Regal Theater, something new gets planted on Little Catfish's street. Something that has the power to grow and grow. As long as Little Catfish and Mr. Odell and the older boys and anyone else who comes to appreciate the majesty of its cool, dark shade tend to it.
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Sandra Belton is the author of the Ernestine & Amanda series, the novels Store-Bought Baby and McKendree, and several picture books, including From Miss Ida's Porch, Pictures for Miss Josie, and Beauty, Her Basket. Sandra Belton grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Chicago, Illinois.From Booklist:
A realistic, hopeful story of finding one’s roots, this short, spare novel, which deals with the renewal of a run-down, inner-city neighborhood, is inspired by a community celebration of the heroes, especially Paul Robeson. The viewpoints alternate between Little Catfish, eight; his elderly mentor, Mr. O’Dell, who once stood with Robeson under what is the street’s only surviving tree; and tough, troubled teenage Lamar, who vandalizes O’Dell’s historic exhibit. More than the overextended image of the tree and the planting metaphor, what will grab readers is the portrait of Robeson, a towering “inspiring” figure, not only because of his achievements as scholar, sports star, and internationally acclaimed singer but also because of his brave fight for equal rights. Many readers will welcome the extensive back matter that includes books, recordings, and Web sites about Robeson and information about other community heroes—from Marian Anderson to Countee Cullen. Grades 3-5. --Hazel Rochman
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Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110060527498
Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060527498