How High the Moon
How High the Moon
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Annotation: In this coming-of-age story set in 1944, eleven-year-old Ella, bullied in her segregated South Carolina school for her light skin tone, seeks information about her absent father from her mother, a jazz singer living in Boston.
Catalog Number: #182707
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 314 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 0-316-48400-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-316-48400-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018032141
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Ella, 12, lives in Alcolu, South Carolina. It's 1943, so segregation is in full force. But Ella's mother is in Boston, working in the navy yards by day and singing in jazz clubs at night, and when Ella goes to live with her, the girl's eyes are opened to a different sort of life. Though the story is Ella's, her cousins Henry and Myrna, also raised by the trio's grandparents, share the narration. The story is crammed with issues: Ella's search for her white father; the excitement and disappointments of living with her mother; the arrest and execution of Myrna's boyfriend, George, for the murder of two girls; even a hint of a same-sex relationship between Ella's mother and her roommate. The book is at its best when the focus is on Ella. Her lively first-­person narrative holds readers' attention, making Henry and Myrna's appearance at times a distraction. Despite a need for streamlining (and more emotional heft to George's story), this has some wonderful voices and character interactions, and an evocative cover will draw readers.
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
As compelling as Brown Girl Dreaming, as character-driven as One Crazy Summer, and as historically illuminating as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Eleven-year-old Ella Hankerson yearns to know her absent father, but her mother, Lucy, and grandparents constantly evade her questions. Teased by other black kids for her light skin and white-seeming features, Ella indulges in wild speculation—maybe it's Cab Calloway? Lucy has left Ella in Alcolu, South Carolina, for work and a jazz career in Boston, and although Granny and Poppy provide a loving home for Ella and two of her cousins (who share narration duties with Ella), 14-year-old orphan Myrna and Ella's best friend, 12-year-old Henry, the rural South in the 1940s can be dangerous for black folks. Racists charge George Stinney, a quiet, shy boy, with murdering two little white girls, and Myrna once encountered a black family lynched and hanging from the trees. Although Ella eagerly leaves the farm to stay with her mother, she finds Boston also imperfect, as she must spend hours alone in the tiny apartment while Lucy and her roommate, Helen, work as shipfitters. A riveting read, this novel masterfully presents Southern and Northern conflicts through the perspective of a no-nonsense kid who is trying to find her place in the world. Ella's realistic voice and passionate responses to injustices make her a credible, flawed, and likable character who sees the truth in front of her but often doesn't recognize it.A captivating novel that sheds new light on black childhood. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Guided Reading Level: X
Fountas & Pinnell: X

To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer in this powerful, bittersweet debut about one girl's journey to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South.

"Timely, captivating, and lovely. So glad this book is in the world." --Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming

In the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944, 12-year-old Ella spends her days fishing and running around with her best friend Henry and cousin Myrna. But life is not always so sunny for Ella, who gets bullied for her light skin tone, and whose mother is away pursuing a jazz singer dream in Boston.

So Ella is ecstatic when her mother invites her to visit for Christmas. Little does she expect the truths she will discover about her mother, the father she never knew and her family's most unlikely history.

And after a life-changing month, she returns South and is shocked by the news that her schoolmate George has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls.

Bittersweet and eye-opening, How High the Moon is a timeless novel about a girl finding herself in a world all but determined to hold her down.

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