Booklist Reviews

In the third book of the Scraps of Time series, Gee tells her grandchildren about their great-great-aunt. In 1928 Lilly Belle leaves Tennessee for Harlem to attend a young authors' writing program led by Zora Neale Hurston. A wealthy city girl pokes fun at Lilly Belle's country ways, but in the end, they become fast friends. McKissack writes with empathy for the characters as well as a good eye for details that bring the period to life. Especially appripriate for aspiring writers, the themes of finding your voice and telling the truth resonate throughout this appealing chapter book. Historical notes on Harlem are appended. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Gee tells her grandchildren the story of Aunt Lilly Belle as a young girl during the Harlem Renaissance. This historical fiction chapter book introduces readers to real personalities living and working in Harlem, most notably Zora Neale Hurston, who teaches Lilly Belle's writing class. The text is informative and accessible. Sketchlike illustrations help bring the story to life. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

McKissack's third offering in her Scraps of Time historical fiction for new readers examines the life of fictional Lilly Belle Turner in 1928 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Told by Lilly Belle's niece, Gee, the grandmother with the attic full of historical family artifacts, McKissack's story closely follows the structure of the earlier entries. This time, 12-year-old Lilly Belle wins a writing contest, leaves her family in Smyrna, Tenn. and joins her Aunt Odessa in Harlem for a class with Zora Neale Hurston in the famed salon, the Dark Tower, run by A'Lelia Walker. One of the classmates plagiarizes a story from The Crisis magazine and Lilly Belle is faced with a crisis of her own. The story line is simply an excuse to namedrop the various historical highlights of the Harlem Renaissance: Countee Cullen, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Savoy, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Marcus Garvey. But for newcomers to the period, this will serve as a taste of this rich period in American history. (Fiction. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–4— In this third title in the series, Gee shares with her three grandchildren the story of her aunt Lilly Belle, who kept journals and had a poem published in Crisis magazine. The aspiring author was 12 when she stayed in Harlem with her Aunt Odessa so that she could attend a writing worshop for young people conducted by Zora Neale Hurston. When Lilly Belle discovered that a snobbish classmate plagiarized the work of a published author, she confronted Alice and learned of her troubled home life. The book ends with Gee telling the children what eventually became of the two girls. End matter includes notes on the Harlem Renaissance. Full-page drawings are scattered throughout. This easy-to-read novel has succinct chapters and sentences that, while simple, convey a feel for the characters and the time, and a vivid sense of place. It should appeal to fans of the series and anyone interested in the era.—Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library

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