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Book Review: Scraps of Time 1960 – Abby Takes A Stand by Patricia McKissack, Illustrated by Gordon James

Scraps of Time 1960: Abby Takes A Stand is the first of a series of juvenile novels by Patricia McKissack. A group of kids help their grandmother explore the contents of her attic and find scraps of memories. As each scrap is found, the grandmother, Gee, tells a story from her childhood and from the childhoods of other family members that exposes how differently today’s world is from the one she grew up in.

McKissack is the author of several novels for young readers. Besides chapter books, she’s also written several picture books. Her subject matter ranges from serious to humorous, from realistic to historical to fantasy.

This first book of the three-book series is on the 2008 Children’s Sequoyah Masterlist. The story details the sit-ins the black community had to stage in Nashville, Tennessee to end segregation in the city. Although the story is deliberately kept small, I read the story to my son and he had no problem seeing the bigger picture as well as all the problems the black families faced while striving for equality.

McKissack’s language is simple, direct, easy-to-read, and emotional. Through just a handful of family members, the fear and outrage is quickly and efficiently shown to the reader.

Abby’s story is compelling to any parent or child. When she mistakenly ends up in a WHITES ONLY restaurant called the Monkey Bar, she’s treated horribly by the white people there. Parents can easily know what it must have felt like by imagining how their child would have felt under similar circumstances. And kids can instantly identify with Abby at being left out of something and told she wasn’t allowed to do something.

The book is only 100 pages long, with big print and illustrations by Gordon James that are equally emotional. We read it in a couple sittings without straining ourselves. I grew up in this time period in Southern Oklahoma, so a lot of what McKissack writes about was familiar to me. It’s amazing to think how much things have changed in that time period, and that our children will never really know what those times were like.

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