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Leaving Gee's Bend Hardcover – January 7, 2010
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From School Library Journal
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More About the Author
When Irene was eight years old, she wrote in her Dr. Seuss' MY BOOK ABOUT ME that, in addition to mother, veterinarian and farmer, she wanted to be a writer. However, she didn't take a single writing class in college. Instead, she earned degrees in social work from University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Irene also participated in the Walt Disney College Program and is the proud recipient of a Mouster's Degree.
For many years writing was Irene's secret life, but after the birth of her third son, she decided to pull those poems and stories out of drawers and share them with others. Since the her work has appeared in various books, journals and anthologies, and she was named Alabama 2006 Poet of the Year. She authored three poetry books for adults before turning her focus to children. The author of two award-winning middle grade novels LEAVING GEE'S BEND and DON'T FEED THE BOY, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various anthologies, including The Poetry Friday series (Pomelo Books) and volumes edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and J. Patrick Lewis, as well as in magazines such as Scholastic's Action, Scope and Storyworks.
Irene especially enjoys sharing her passion for writing with others at school, senior centers, libraries, Girl Scout meetings and writing conferences. She is the co-founder of the Big Table Poets and serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal.
Irene loves exploring new places and often uses "research" as an excuse to travel. Her favorite characters in books and real life are those who have the courage to go their own way. She considers writing a spiritual practice and can't imagine who she would be without words.
Books for Children:
LEAVING GEE'S BEND (Putnam/Penguin, 2010)
DON'T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan, 2012)
DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE (Millbrook Press/Lerner, 2014)
WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA: AND OTHER POEMS ABOUT THE FROZEN CONTINENT (Millbrook Press/Lerner, 2016)
FRESH DELICIOUS: POEMS FROM THE FARMERS' MARKET (WordSong/Boyds Mills Press, 2016)
IT'S NOT BLACK & WHITE, with Charles Waters (Carolrhoda/Lerner, 2017)
POP, BAM, BOOM!: EXPLODING POEMS (WordSong/ Boyds Mills Press, TBD)
FRANK & MISS FANCY (Putnam/Penguin Random House, TBD)
Top Customer Reviews
As time passed, Mama needed her help more often. It seemed that the bigger the baby grew inside Mama, the weaker she became. One morning, a series of coughing fits seized Mama and caused her to collapse on the floor. She couldn't get back up. It was all Ludelphia could do to get Mama across the room and onto the cornshuck pallet she used for a bed. It was too soon for the baby to be born but it couldn't be helped. Without a doctor or time to spare, Ludelphia and her neighbor, Etta Mae, did everything they knew how to do.
When her mama's health takes a turn for the worse and her family says there's nothing else they can do, Ludelphia takes matters into her own hands. She decides that her mama's only hope is for her to leave Gee's Bend in search of a real doctor with real medicine. The perilous journey to Camden is over 40 miles long and danger lurks at every turn. Ludelphia's greatest strength is her ability to draw on the words of wisdom her mother instilled in her over the years. Will this inner strength be enough to carry Ludelphia to Camden and back in time to save her mother's life?
Leaving Gee's Bend is set in 1932 in the dirt-poor sharecropping community of Gee's Bend, Alabama. The language used is authentic to the period and people. The characters and landscape are vivid.Read more ›
Set in 1932, the novel Leaving Gee's Bend incorporates both the inspired quilting heritage of this small community and its isolated geography to tell the story of ten-year old Ludelphia, who may have only one eye that works but still has plenty of chores to do.
Her mama's about to have a baby any minute, and is sick with a terrible cough, but the one thing that can make Mama smile no matter what is stitching quilts. Ludelphia's beginning a quilt all about her own story, intended as a special gift for her Mama. She's always got a needle and bits of cloth in her pocket, and has been sewing since she was a "little bitty girl."
When Mama's baby comes too soon and Mama gets even sicker, Ludelphia decides she has to go fetch a "real doctor" all the way from Camden, even though there's no money to pay him. But to get there, she has to cross the river, and she's got no time to wait for the ferryman. Crossing by herself, she winds up way downstream, where Ludelphia discovers a new world, one with fancy houses for white people with real glass panes, motor cars, delicious food, and even genuine Coca-Cola. But there's danger too, with a crazy white lady who threatens to come to Gee's Bend and take everything they've got. But Ludelphia knows she can't give up, no matter what. She's got to help Mama, and also help her neighbors in Gee's Bend.Read more ›
Summary: Ludelphia Bennett is ten years old, her family is part of a sharecropping community. Ludelphia wears a patch over one eye as she accidentally went blind in it when a tiny sliver of wood flew into it when she was younger. She has a passion for quilting and is working on a special quilt now for her Mama that will tell Ludelphia's story to her. Mama is ill with a terrible cough and large with a baby on the way but when Mama goes into labour early and the baby is born healthy after 3 previous stillborn, Mama's health turns worse. She can hardly breathe and now she's coughing up blood. Ludelphia decides she must do more for Mama and embarks on a 40 mile journey to get the nearest doctor and medicine to save Mama's life. It's a dangerous journey for one-eyed, ten year old Ludelphia, who has never been out of Gee's Bend, and never seen a white person before but she takes her quilting with her to keep her hands busy and on the way comes across scraps of cloth to add to the quilt and her story.
Comments: This is a sweet, touching story. I fell in love with Ludelphia from the first page. She is a feisty girl, full of questions, not one to accept an answer without fully understanding and agreeing with it. She has a fine heart, loving all those around her and giving all the benefit of the doubt, she has a way with animals and is the only one who can get along with the stubborn mule they own. A very enjoyable character to read about.
The book takes the reader inside the daily life of a struggling sharecropper family during the depression. How the small rows of houses form a community and everyone looks after each other. They share the good times and they weather the strife and hardship together.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this simple story of a young girl's courage. Set in historic Gees Bend, it is inspiring and honestPublished 3 months ago by Margaret L. Ells
I am reading this to my Adult Day facility folks in my reading group. We are studying the Great Depression (two years it has taken!) and this is the third book I've read. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Rock Island Shopper
Wonderful story and historical peek at this special place.Published 14 months ago by kimberly doele
Love the book, It was interesting,detailed, and the characters were very believeable. Gees Bend is in Alabama not far from where I live.Published 20 months ago by nita
A true testimony of how determination and courage can get your through the worst of times. Family draws a sense of strength and perseverance when at the end of the day that's all... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Mary McAlhaney
I read the book in one sitting. It was fascinating, and kept my attention. The characters were well drawn and although the book was short, it was so well told that I felt satisfied... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Jill E. Dailey
Everyone needs a story like this in their collection! Warm and gentle and so dear to the heart! Irene Latham does a fantastic job to let the reader visualize every character and... Read morePublished on May 12, 2013 by Jennifer R. Hand
This is a powerful story of a young girl that becomes a hero in small, poor Alabama community! Ludelphia is a great role model for young girls as she faces many serious challenges... Read morePublished on April 7, 2013 by Paige