Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It
Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It

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Annotation: From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that deliv... more
Catalog Number: #253867
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Illustrator: Pinkney, J. Brian,
Pages: 269 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-53677-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8786-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-53677-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8786-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2020005755
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Spanning roughly three generations, covering the years 1927 to 1968, this lyrical oral history of the fictional Little family gives insight into the complex African American experience of Jim Crow and the long fight for voting rights. Loretta Little, affectionately called 'Retta by her father, grows up in Mississippi a generation or two removed from the Civil War, when enslaved Black Americans were technically freed. However, the practice of sharecropping often led to other forms of servitude, so much so that 'Retta's father said the family had less freedom than the chickens that roamed the land. Quick-witted and determined, 'Retta perseveres through the injustices and reaches out to celebrate joy when and where she finds it, including an unexpected addition to the family. Found and adopted by 'Retta and her sisters, toddler Rollins (a.k.a. Roly) is a Night-Deep child -- left in the woods by parents who'd lost hope in their own circumstances. After the family acquires a small piece of land, the Littles are closer to finding hope, and Roly commits his life to patiently encouraging that hope to grow, first with the family land and later as the father of Aggie B., a spitfire who, when she sees voter suppression and intimidation in her community, becomes a fierce advocate for the right to vote. Divided into three movements, Pinkney's "monologue novel" immerses readers in the first-person accounts. Through a mix of drama, gospel, and rhythm and blues, and with great immediacy, Pinkney introduces readers to an extraordinary family and provides a compelling testimony of resilience. Moving spot illustrations reinforce the brilliance and strength of the Littles' "truth-talking." Back matter includes author's and artist's notes, details on the dramatic form, information about sharecropping, and suggestions for further reading. Eboni Njoku
Kirkus Reviews
Three members of the Little family, as preteens and teens, tell their personal and family stories.First, Loretta Little speaks, from 1927 to 1930, about her life picking cotton as a sharecropper, watching her father endure degradation under conditions that are less than completely free. Next, ’Retta’s little brother, Roly, speaks from 1942 to 1950. The family now has their own small plot of land, but terrorists poison their animals to keep them in check. After this heartbreak, Roly finds love, marries, and has a child, Aggie B., the final narrator, who brings readers from 1962 to 1968. Aggie is the youngest volunteer in her town’s voter-registration effort, helping Aunt ’Retta to study for the unfair test and then to save up pennies to pay the poll tax. She is beaten savagely by racists and attends the Democratic National Convention twice, giving readers a front-row seat to history. Author Pinkney’s writing is alive with imagery; the unusual monologue format works ideally read aloud in pieces and offers rich opportunities for readers' theater. Each character presents an engaging contrast to the others, and the slow progress from Jim Crow days to the 1960s illuminates a little-examined piece of U.S. history while making it deeply personal. Illustrator Pinkney’s grayscale paintings open and close chapters with rounded frames and expressive features, memorably connecting and highlighting the story's themes of family and land.Readers will hear the history come alive. (author's notes, illustrator's notes, photos, further reading) (Historical fiction. 9-14)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 5 Up Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, recount their lives through original first-person narratives, poetry, and spiritual hymns. The first to tell her story is Loretta Little, who is as strong as any adult and can box cotton with the best of them. Her life as a sharecropper's daughter imbues her with great strength, but is not without sacrifice. Next up is Roly, whose story begins when Loretta and her sisters find him abandoned in a field as a baby and raise him. He grows up with an affinity for nature and an intuition for what the farm animals and crops need. The last to tell her story is Aggie B., Roly's daughter, and the B stands for "bold." Even though she is young, she stands by her beliefs and feels it is her duty to help African Americans exercise their right to vote. Every character has a unique voice and an engaging presence. From the first page, readers are invested in these characters' journeys as they navigate fantastic triumphs and devastating lows. The members of the Little family meld well with each other and realistically portray a close-knit family dynamic. This creatively written monologue novel uses the style of stage performance, allowing readers to visualize every monologue or poem performed. The pleasing artwork punctuates each chapter with added depth. VERDICT The combination of elements drawing on oral tradition and folklore set this book apart, making it an unforgettable reading experience. Perfect for every library. Myiesha Speight, Towson Univ., Baltimore
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Three members of the Little family, as preteens and teens, tell their personal and family stories.First, Loretta Little speaks, from 1927 to 1930, about her life picking cotton as a sharecropper, watching her father endure degradation under conditions that are less than completely free. Next, ’Retta’s little brother, Roly, speaks from 1942 to 1950. The family now has their own small plot of land, but terrorists poison their animals to keep them in check. After this heartbreak, Roly finds love, marries, and has a child, Aggie B., the final narrator, who brings readers from 1962 to 1968. Aggie is the youngest volunteer in her town’s voter-registration effort, helping Aunt ’Retta to study for the unfair test and then to save up pennies to pay the poll tax. She is beaten savagely by racists and attends the Democratic National Convention twice, giving readers a front-row seat to history. Author Pinkney’s writing is alive with imagery; the unusual monologue format works ideally read aloud in pieces and offers rich opportunities for readers' theater. Each character presents an engaging contrast to the others, and the slow progress from Jim Crow days to the 1960s illuminates a little-examined piece of U.S. history while making it deeply personal. Illustrator Pinkney’s grayscale paintings open and close chapters with rounded frames and expressive features, memorably connecting and highlighting the story's themes of family and land.Readers will hear the history come alive. (author's notes, illustrator's notes, photos, further reading) (Historical fiction. 9-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The Pinkneys' latest collaboration (Martin Rising, 2018) comprises a series of dramatic monologues spotlighting three fictional members of the Little family whose experiences are based on the collective voices of African Americans living in the American South from the 1920s to the late 1960s. Twelve-year-old Loretta recounts growing up as a sharecropper's daughter in the 1920s: watching her father be disrespected by their landowner, being sprayed with insecticide while picking cotton, and losing her beloved father to cancer. Foundling Roland (Roly), raised as a much younger sibling by Loretta, recalls having his livestock poisoned, the difficulties of adhering to Jim Crow laws, and his night-deep vigils to protect his land. Daughter Aggie's soliloquies, set in the 1960s, highlight her participation in voter registration drives, her membership in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the group's eventual recognition at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. As always, Pinkney's writing sings, rich with metaphor, lyricism, and touches of magic realism. The choice of oral storytelling is inspired, both for its cultural significance and because it allows readers to empathize with these events. Stage notes, free verse poems, and black-and-white spot art introduce most monologues, effectively representing the characters and emphasizing their resilience. Generous back matter concludes this timely and important read.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (9/1/20)
Starred Review for Horn Book (9/1/20)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (9/1/20)
School Library Journal Starred Review (9/1/20)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 38,974
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 509561 / grade: Middle Grades

From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.

"Right here, I'm sharing the honest-to-goodness." -- Loretta

"I'm gon' reach back, and tell how it all went. I'm gon' speak on it. My way." -- Roly

"I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there's nothing bad about being bold." -- Aggie B.

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories -- beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 -- come together to create one unforgettable journey.

Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling's oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America's struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel's unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.


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