The Land is Mildred D. Taylor's wonderful prequel to her Newbery Medal winner, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In the stories Taylor has to tell, life is not fair, hard work doesn't always pay off, and the good guy doesn't always win. That's because this extraordinary author tells the stories of her African American family in the Deep South during and after the Civil War, a time of ugly, painful racism.
Paul-Edward Logan, the son of a white, plantation-owner father and a slave mother, is our narrator, bound and determined to buy his own land and shape his own future at whatever cost. Caught between black and white worlds and not fitting into either one is devastating for him, but his powerful, engaging tales of the love of family, the strength of friendship, and growing up will inspire anyone to dare to persevere despite terrible odds. Taylor's books are not only essential in understanding what led up to the Civil Rights movement in America--they are also breathtaking page-turners, full of suspense, humor, love, and hope. The Land certainly stands alone, but the other award-winning tales of the Logan family--Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Let the Circle Be Unbroken; and The Road to Memphis--are excellent as well. Heartily recommended. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson