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When Leah's aunt Olivia sends her a red rose box all the way from California for her tenth birthday, she and her younger sister Ruth can hardly imagine what could be inside. Living in dusty Sulphur, Louisiana, the arrival of the box, full of magical things-lipstick, nailpolish, and a 100% silk bedjacket-is about the most exciting thing that has ever happened to Leah and Ruth.
Aunt Olivia has also sent some train tickets for a trip to Los Angeles and freedom, far away from the Jim Crow laws that keep the Southern blacks down. Leah is enchanted by her rich aunt's lifestyle and the California culture. Like the treasures in the box, California is almost too good to be true. But when tragedy forces Leah and Ruth to make Los Angeles their permanent home, the girls are torn by longing for their roots.
Brenda Woods has written an evocative first novel about the importance of remembering your past, even as you move away from it.
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Brenda Woods was born in Ohio, grew up in Southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. Her award-winning books for young readers include The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (a CCBC choice and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book); the Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box; the ALAN Pick Saint Louis Armstrong Beach; and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue. Woods’s numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Book Award, the FOCAL International Award, and the ILA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award. She lives in the Los Angeles area. To learn more, visit brendawoods.net.From Publishers Weekly:
Woods's moving first novel opens in sleepy Sulphur, La., in June 1953, when Leah receives a 10th birthday present from her estranged aunt in Los Angeles: a traveling case covered with red roses. The gift holds treasures the likes of which Leah has never seen: costume jewelry, a pink silk bed jacket ("like what rich white women wears b'fore bed at night," her grandmother tells Leah and her sister), pink satin slippers, nail polish, lipstick. A letter of apology from Leah's aunt to Leah's mother occasions a visit to L.A. with her mother, grandmother and younger sister, and Leah revels in the luxuries of her aunt's privileged world, a stark contrast to the subsistent lifestyle the child knows. Exposure to the freedom from segregation that exists south of the Mason-Dixon line also makes a dramatic impression on the heroine. After the girls' parents perish in a hurricane and the siblings move into the elegant home of kind Olivia and her husband, the youngsters want for nothing. Yet Leah's thoughts of her parents and past haunt her constantly: "It felt like I was a million miles from Sulphur and crayfish, cotton fields and hand-me-down clothes, a one-room schoolhouse, segregation, and Jim Crow. But I knew one thing. I knew that I would gladly give up this new comfort and freedom to be in my mama's arms, to feel the tenderness in my daddy's touch one more time." Though the repetition of similar reflections occasionally slackens the pace of Woods's narrative, she creates some memorable characters, especially Leah, and probes historical events in a personal context that may open many readers' eyes. Ages 10-up.
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Book Description G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M039923702X
Book Description Putnam Juvenile, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX039923702X
Book Description G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Y, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11039923702X