From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-It is the last day of harvest at the Appling Farm, and there is soon to be a celebration, or "ring shout," to rejoice in the year's blessings. According to Grand, everyone will be bringing something that speaks, "from your heart straight to the ears of God." Grand is bringing his cane because, "When I pound it on the ground, it sounds like the hooves of our plow mule that breaks dirt open in spring. I give praise for our mule." Pap, Mam, and Pearl are all taking things for their own special reasons. Toby is troubled. He is now old enough to join in the festivities, but he doesn't know what to contribute. Cohen's use of complementary colors over full spreads results in illustrations that are vibrant and eye-catching. Siegelson is to be commended for introducing children to this African-American tradition, but the story is less than compelling and some readers and listeners may lose interest before the end of the book. In the author's note (but not evidenced in the story), Siegelson comments that a ring shout incorporates a call-and-response style. While not a first purchase, the book will serve libraries looking for material on this tradition or celebrations that incorporate that idea of gratitude or praise.Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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PreS-Gr. 3. In previous books, such as In the Time of the Drums
(1999), about the Underground Railroad, Siegelson has proved herself a master at whipping historic events into delectable tidbits, especially for finicky youngsters who are still refining their literary palates. In this book, she introduces the sacred tradition of ring shouts, a call-and-response style of song and controlled movement passed down through the years from enslaved Africans in the U.S. Young Toby is finally old enough to join his family in the celebratory "circle" for the ring shout, but he can't seem to find an instrument "that would speak from his heart to God's ears." Pap has a drum to make music; Grand has a cane to tap; Pearl has a gourd to shake. What should Toby bring? When the time comes, he finds the answer that's just right for him. An author's note gives background on the tradition, and selected sources are listed on the verso of the title page. Cohen's unfussy art is a joyous compliment, making the most of flat, bright colors--orange, red, green, purple--as it lends a wonderful down-home quality to the story. Terry GloverCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved