William H. Hooks The Ballad of Belle Dorcas

ISBN 13: 9780679878094

The Ballad of Belle Dorcas

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9780679878094: The Ballad of Belle Dorcas
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In this mesmerizing African-American tale, a beautiful free-issue girl, Belle Dorcas, seeks out a conjure woman to concoct a spell that will prevent her husband from being sold and sent away by their master.  A "first-rate piece of storytelling"--(starred review) Booklist.  

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From the Back Cover:

"The effect of the fluent, dramatic storytelling is immeasurably enhanced by the striking artwork, which casts its own spell."--The Horn Book.

From School Library Journal:

A conjure tale from the Carolina coast. Belle Dorcas is "free issue"; that is, born of an African-American mother and a white father during the slavery period and free since birth. When it comes time to marry, she chooses no one but Joshua, the best fiddle player in the county--and a slave. She lives, as a free person, in the slave quarters with Joshua, but the plans of a new owner of the plantation to sell her husband inspire the first of several visits by Belle to Granny Lizard, the local "cunger" (conjure) woman. After asking Belle if she can bear to lose Joshua to keep him, she turns him into a giant cedar, explaining that he and Belle can be together as man and woman by night. Belle survives even the cutting of the wood of the "Joshua tree" for a smokehouse, always finding a way to be with Joshua at night. Upon her natural death, the smokehouse vanishes, replaced by two young cedars. Hook's retelling is smooth and powerful, limning the events of the plot with incisively concrete language. Pinkney's illustrations are the best element here, though; the scenes are skillfully rendered in a scratchboard style that evokes time and place while giving vivid life to characters and incident. Swirling scratched lines swoop through the images, bringing an aspect of eerie movement throughout. An entertaining ghost story with a satisfying conclusion and a memorable interpretation. --Christine Behrmann, New York Public Library
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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