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Bye, Mis' Lela Hardcover – April 14, 1998

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this gentle but not altogether childlike picture book, an African American girl comes to terms with the death of her elderly caregiver. Sugar Plum fondly recalls how, when her mother went off to work, she played with the chickens and geese in the yard as Mis' Lela hung the piles of laundry on the line. She remembers how Mis' Lela bathed her in a washtub and fed her ginger cake. And then she remembers Mis' Lela's death. Attending Mis' Lela's wake, she saw her friend lying on her bed, dressed in her "Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes," and realized they'd never play together again. Carter (Br'er Rabbit Meets His Match) tackles a difficult topic with a predominantly poignant voice and memorable characterizations. She clearly evokes a bygone era, a time when it was not uncommon for women to take in laundry and for a tinker to call door-to-door. However, Mis' Lela's passing breaks the tender mood Carter has established so well. This emotional shift may prove jarring for young readers, whom Carter fails to consider in her abrupt, vague descriptions of death and grief, and for whom the implicit message, that time heals, will be hard to accept. Stevenson's (The Tangerine Tree) oils feature a summery palette of greens, blues, yellows and pinks, suggesting sunny days spent outdoors. His portraits of a kind-faced Mis' Lela holding Sugar on her lap radiate warmth and love. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3?Little Sugar Plum stays with Mis' Lela while her mother is at work. Though she cries when her mother leaves her, Mis' Lela succeeds in wiping the "dewdrops" off the child's cheeks. Throughout the day, they work and play, teach and learn, eat, sleep, and take life as it comes. Then one day, Mis' Lela dies. Little Sugar and her mother go to the wake and listen to the folks talking low "'bout Mis' Lela restin' with the Comforter." The child asks her mother questions: "Can she hear me?" "Can she see me?" "Can she dream?" Mother answers in simple negatives. Now Mother takes Sugar to work with her, and when she grows bigger she passes Mis' Lela's house on her way to school. She hears Mis' Lela say, "Study your lessons, Sugar Plum, and mind your manners." Stevenson's paintings are simple and powerful, filled with the lively hot colors of a Southern summer afternoon, and then the sad blues and greens of a mourning house with drawn shades. The story is sensitively and tenderly told and the pictures are its heart-moving complement.?Ruth Semrau, formerly at Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 560L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (April 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374310130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374310134
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,659,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Tenderly told and stunningly illustrated! Dorothy Carter tells how a little girl says goodbye to an elderly friend. Miss Lela embodies the mothering elders who blessed many of our childhoods. In the story, "Sugar Plum" learns to accept the reality of Miss Lela's death. She discovers strength and comfort in remembering her. Southern sunlight shines through the illustrations. A great book for a child dealing with loss. A touching tribute to the "Miss Lelas" who nurtured many of us!
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