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Children's Literature Reviews
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The Glory Field
by Walter Dean Myers.
New York, NY : Scholastic, 1994.
375 p. ; 24 cm.


Follows a family's two hundred forty-one year history, from the capture of an African boy in the 1750s through the lives of his descendants, as their dreams and circumstances lead them away from and back to the small plot of land in South Carolina that they call the Glory Field.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1994 ; United States
Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1994 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, September 1994 ; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1995 ; American Library Association; United States
YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 1997 ; American Library Association; United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Young Adult Reading Program, 1996 ; Grades 7-12; South Dakota

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 5
Accelerated Reader Points 12
Accelerated Vocabulary, Literacy Skills


Hazel Rochman (Booklist, October 1, 1994 (Vol. 91, No. 3))
Like Haley's Roots (1976), this is the saga of an African American family across 250 years. The story is told through the experiences of one young person in each crucial historical period, beginning with Muhammad Bilal on a slave ship in 1753 and ending with Malcolm Lewis, a contemporary Harlem teenager in search of his identity in a multicultural society. The slavery episode is powerful, but afterwards, this becomes a long, sprawling docu-novel, with little of the taut intensity of Myers' great family quest story, Somewhere in the Darkness (1992). The best episode is set in the 1960s South, when star basketball player Tommy Lewis is tempted to accept a scholarship as a token Negro in an all-white college; instead, he takes part in a civil rights demonstration and chooses a stunning way to expose the official violence that has always kept the races apart. Several characters on all sides of the struggle are drawn with sensitivity and humor, but this book works better as essay than as fiction. The message is urgent and immediate for all of us: "You can't make much progress if you don't leave home, but you can sure mess yourself up if you don't remember where home is." Category: Older Readers. 1994, Scholastic, $14.95. Gr. 7-10.

Susie Wilde (Children's Literature)
This book is an astounding fictional study of the African-American Lewis family traced through two hundred and forty years. Myers wrote this novel to express the changes he saw in the texture of life from one generation to another. He succeeds brilliantly because of the authenticity of his characters; from Muhammad, brought in leg irons from Sierra Leone, Africa, to Curry Island, South Carolina, in 1753, to his descendant, urban-dweller Malcolm, who blends techniques to compose his own kind of music in 1994, and battles to bring his drug-addicted cousin to their family reunion. Myers never lectures; he only creates a stage for his heros and heroines to tell history. His characters expose differences of culture and sentiment by their actions and decisions, while struggling against the societal constraints of each period. They all show love for, and pride in, a family that builds a reputation of self-respect and determination through successive generations. 1994, Scholastic, $ 14.95 and $4.99. Ages 12 to 14.

Kathleen Karr (Children's Literature)
In the tradition of Roots, Myers's novel follows one African-American family starting with its patriarch, Muhammad Bilal, who came to America in 1753 aboard a slave ship, to the present day Lewis family. Generation-skipping vignettes focus on the struggles of this family to maintain both their dignity and their precious land base, the Glory Field on Curry Island, South Carolina. Critical turning points in African-American history motivate each short glimpse into the Lewis psyche: emancipation during the Civil War; emigration North to the cities; and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. While some of the incidents cry out for a book of their very own, Myers has managed to sketch a valid portrait of the subject through his microcosm family. 1994, Scholastic, $14.95 and $4.99. Ages 12 up.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1994)
An ambitious novel tracing the history of an African-American family from its first member to come to this country in 1753 - in the bonds of slavery - up to the present time. The fictitious Lewis family's story begins with a short chapter telling of the capture of eleven-year-old Muhammad Bilal in Sierra Leone, Africa. Each subsequent section of the book moves the story forward in time and follows the family's journey from place to place - from the Civil War and then the turn of the 20th century on Curry Island off the coast of South Carolina, to Chicago in 1930, to Johnson City, South Carolina in 1964, and finally to Harlem in 1994. As the story moves forward in time, it is enriched with greater and greater detail about the daily life of that generation of family members and the social and political climate in which they lived. At the same time that he creates a compelling history of an extended African-American family, Myers paints an unflinching portrait of life for African-Americans in the United States at various times and places throughout this nation's history. Honor Book, 1994 CCBC Coretta Scott King Award Discussion: Writing. CCBC categories: Fiction For Teenagers. 1994, Scholastic, 375 pages, $14.95. Ages 11-14.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
A stunning novel about the perseverance and courage of one African-American family from the author of the award-winning Somewhere in the Darkness (1992). Myers begins the story of the Lewis family in Africa in 1753 with the capture of 11-year-old Muhammad Bilal, who is shackled and put on a ship bound for America. The story then skips to 1864 on Curry Island, S.C., where the descendants of Muhammad now live on the Lewis plantation. Two of them, Joshua and Lem, have run away, but Lem is caught tied to a tree as bait for Joshua. Lizzy, Lem's 13-year-old cousin, is seen giving Lem a drink and must flee as well. All three escape and the men join the Union army to fight for their freedom. In 1900, Lizzy's son Elijah stands up to the white men of Curry Island and is forced to leave for Chicago. His daughter, Luvenia, is thwarted in her dream to go to the University of Chicago in 1930, but she defies expectations and succeeds in business. Tommy Lewis, back in South Carolina in 1964, must choose between appeasing the establishment -- and receiving a scholarship to attend college -- or fighting for his ideals. And now in Harlem, talented young musician Malcolm Lewis is responsible for bringing his crack-addicted cousin, Shep, to the Lewis family reunion on Curry Island. In this fluid, simple book, Myers brings to life an entire history of a people, highlighting the Lewis family's commitment and strength. A must read for absolutely everyone. 1994, Scholastic, $14.95. Starred Review. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Spanning nearly 250 years of African American history, this emotionally charged saga of the Lewis family traces an ongoing battle for freedom and equality. Beginning with young Muhammad Bilal's journey from Africa in 1753 and ending with a 1990s family reunion set on the plantation where Muhammad was a slave, this series of resonant stories shows how each generation comes of age by taking a stand against oppression. All through the Civil War, Great Depression and civil rights movement, the family's strength and determination continue unabated. In his typically taut, economic prose, Myers (Somewhere in the Darkness) illuminates shadowy corners of history and reveals the high cost-and the excruciatingly slow process-of justice. The obstacles facing the Lewis family will be remembered as clearly as their triumphs, and readers will come away from this novel with both a broader perspective on social conflicts and a more profound understanding of the past. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

Ted Hipple (The ALAN Review, Winter 1995 (Vol. 22, No. 2))
A "Roots for young adults," Walter Dean Myers' Glory Field traces one African-American family from its slave origins to present-day Harlem, doing so in a series of episodes that involve five different generations of the same family. Myers begins, briefly, with captured African Muhammed Bilal, who is enslaved on Curry Island, South Carolina, and establishes what becomes the Lewis family, first slaves, then struggling land owners, finally successful and not-so-successful urban dwellers. Though young readers may be a bit frustrated as Myers sometimes ends episodes at climactic moments, they will nonetheless learn through his vivid stories what life was like for Black families in this country, then and now. This well-written and valuable telling of an American history, too often shortchanged in textbook, merits--and will reward-- very reader's attention. 1994, Scholastic, 340 pp., $14.95 and $4.95. Ages 12 up.

Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 1994 (Vol. 48, No. 3))
The Lewis family of Curry Island, South Carolina is now a sprawling, flourishing clan, but it owes its growth-indeed its very survival-to the fortitude of several remarkable teenagers, whose sacrifices and decisions throughout the family's 250-year history are highlighted in six self-contained but seamlessly interrelated tales. Muhammad Bilal arrives in slave shackles in 1753 and founds the dynasty. Lizzy, implicated in a slaves' escape attempt, must flee the Curry plantation to become a camp follower to a Negro regiment in the Civil War. Her freeborn son Elijah dangerously defies white authority when he comes of age, and like his mother, leaves his home to settle in the North. There his daughter Luvenia sees her dream for a college education crumble, but forges ahead to become the family's first entrepreneur. In 1964 a Lewis teen is torn between the possibility of integrating a Southern university on a "token" basketball scholarship or participating in a civil-rights demonstration. Finally, middle-class Malcolm from the Harlem branch of the Lewises grapples with his crack-addicted cousin on their trip to the family reunion in Curry. As he helps in the final harvest of sweet potatoes from the field where Muhammad (now only a misspelled name in the family Bible) once toiled, Malcolm earns the stewardship of the family's heirloom, a set of shackles which he will pass to the next generation. Plentiful dialogue, spiced with truly witty repartee, will make Myers' contemporary-fiction fans feel right at home in this sweeping family saga; cliffhangers that end each chapter will rivet readers who normally shun lengthy historical fiction. R*--Highly recommended as a book of special distinction. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1994, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1994, Scholastic, [288p], $14.95. Grades 5-9.


African Americans Fiction.
African Americans Fiction.
Families Fiction.
Discrimination Fiction.
Slavery Fiction.
South Carolina Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.M992 Gl 1994
93043520 [Fic]
0590458973 : $14.95
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