Abandoned by their mother after the death of their father, three youngsters are determined to keep their situation a secret so that the authorities will not split them up and send them to foster homes
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Grade 5-8-- Mama loved to dance, but had ". . . so many secrets, things that made her run away in the night." At 11, Mary Belle finds herself in charge of keeping her lively little sister, Callie, and remote older brother, Ariel, together as a family. Ariel's part-time job keeps them fed, after a fashion, but he falls asleep over his homework, and Callie's health fades away. All of them labor over the chore of keeping their secret. Finally, a neighbor, Amarius, sees something's amiss, and without prying begins to help. Then Callie gets the measles, and nothing is right again. Abandonment and poverty permeate the mood and plot of this tightly woven tale. Mary Belle emerges as a heroic child, too young to know she's not to blame for events. Surrounding characters are also well drawn, each revealed through action. The setting, somewhere deep in America's rural South, is marked by dust, treefrogs, and folks sitting in silent communication on shaded porches. A muted chord is one of neighborly loyalty, when color lines fade (Mary Belle's family is apparently white, Amarius's apparently black). Rhythmic, homey text and genuine characters resonate with authenticity. Mama Let's Dance joins the work of Vera Cleaver and Robbie Branscum to portray the heart of America at its best--and at its worst. --Carolyn Noah, Worcester Public Library, MA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An author accustomed to dealing with serious topics (You Shouldn't Have to Say Good-bye, 1982) takes up the subject of children abandoned by their parents. When their mother, tired of raising them alone, runs off to become a dancer, Mary Belle, 11, takes over caring for their home in the rural South and little sister Callie while older brother Ariel supports them with his service station job. Their main concern is avoiding foster care, which was forced on them once before, when their mother broke down after their father left. Therefore, they are dismayed when elderly black neighbor Amarius and his grand-niece Miss Dearly Aikens notice their situation and want to help. It takes Callie's tragic illness to force Mary Belle to come to terms with her mother's actions and her own need to rely on the kindness of caring friends. Mary Belle's narration, while poignant and truly felt, moves slowly and has a predictable outcome. Unfortunately, her unique voice doesn't compensate for the melodramatic plot or the slight characterizations. (Fiction. 10-14) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Little Brown & Co (Juv), 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110316358614
Book Description Little Brown & Co (Juv), 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0316358614