Sunday, January 29, 2012


Mama Hattie's Girl, Lois Lenski, J B Lippincott Company, 1953, 182 pp


The ninth book in Lois Lenski's American Regional Series is about Lula Bell, who lives on Hibiscus Street in a Florida town with her mother, her grandmother Mama Hattie, and various other family members. Lenski brings this Black neighborhood to life with incidents involving the neighbors and their relationship to Lula Bell and Mama Hattie.

Lula Bell's father is up north trying to make money. In fact, "up north" is like a promised land to these people, full of riches, opportunity and other good things. Lula likes to brag to her friends about how she is going up north soon. Eventually she and her mother do go north and join her father. The conflict in this story concerns the good and the bad in both locations. Lula Bell goes through some tough experiences in New York City.

Lenski portrays the lives of these people and the subtle differences between southern and northern racism. She refrains from any judgment but just tells it like it is. I now have a new favorite Lois Lenski book and my admiration for what she achieved in this series continues to grow.

(Like all of the volumes in the American Regional Series, Mama Hattie's Girl is out of print but can be found in libraries and through used book sellers.)

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