Publishers Weekly Reviews
Farris's stirring memoir of her younger brother "M.L." focuses on a pivotal moment in their childhood in Atlanta. The conversational narrative easily and convincingly draws readers into the daily life of Christine and her two brothers, M.L. and A.D., as they listen to their grandmother's stories, stage pranks and romp in the backyard with two white brothers from across the street. The adults in the King family-Daddy, a minister; Mother Dear, a musician; maternal grandparents (the grandfather is also a minister) and a great-aunt-try to shield the children from the overt racism of the times; the family rarely took streetcars, for example, because of "those laws [segregation], and the indignity that went with them." When the white boys announce one day that they cannot play with M.L. and A.D. because they are "Negroes," the young Kings are hurt and baffled. Mother Dear explains, "[Whites] just don't understand that everyone is the same, but someday, it will be better." M.L. replies, "Mother Dear, one day I'm going to turn this world upside down." Soentpiet (Dear Santa, Please Come to the 19th Floor) illustrates this exchange with a powerful watercolor portrait of mother and son that encapsulates many emotions, including hope, pain and love. Unfortunately, in other paintings, the characters often seem frozen in exaggerated poses, or minor figures are rendered with less skill than demonstrated elsewhere. These inconsistencies detract from an otherwise gripping volume that makes the audience aware that heroes were once children, too. All ages. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.