Every school library collection should have copies of the series, TALES OF YOUNG AMERICANS, published by Sleeping Bear Press. This Press is an imprint of Gale, a part of Cengage Learning. One of their frequent authors, Gloria Whelan, has an exciting new book, THE LISTENERS , Illustrated by MIKE BENNY (2010, $17.95)
The story revolves around slave children Ella May, Bobby and Sue. Ella May works in the fields from dawn to dusk, but her work does not end after dusk. Then she collects the other two children and they head for their master’s house. Once there they settle themselves on the ground outside the window. Here they have been instructed to listen to the family conversation and report any pertinent information to the other slaves back in the quarters.
On this night their master is particularly angry as he reports to his family “I can’t believe Abraham Lincoln has been elected president. … Lincoln is a madman! He says slavery is wrong! He says slavery must end!” The children run quickly back with this news. Father is elated and says. “We see the road, but we don’t see all the way to where the ending is. We got to know how long is that road and how we get down it.”
Listening for the children simply has only begun.
The artist for this volume is a Society of Illustrators multi-award winner. The paintings take the reader into the scene making each page a lively picture of life back then. The children are truly childlike, eager and delighted to be doing such an important task. With each volume in this series the artwork is extraordinary, making each story a treasure to behold.