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Belle Teal Hardcover – October 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this honest and moving novel, Martin (the Baby-Sitters Club series; P.S. Longer Letter Later) takes readers back to the era of the civil rights movement in the rural South to share the experiences of a poor white girl when her school becomes integrated. The author evokes the aura of hatred and fear permeating the small community of Coker Creek as skillfully as Belle Teal's empathy for her African-American classmate, Darryl. Martin sensitively captures the narrator's reactions to the events around her, such as when Belle Teal sees racist picketers outside of her school: "I feel my face grow warm, like I'm embarrassed, even though I haven't done anything." Besides feeling anger towards her insensitive classmates and their bigoted parents, the fifth-grade narrator resents a new rich girl named Vanessa (whom she dubs "HRH" for Her Royal Highness), who makes fun of the way she dresses. Yet the heroine learns some important lessons about not judging people by their appearances; she later learns a tragic secret that sheds some light on Vanessa. As well as capturing the climate of the early '60s, the author adroitly tackles timeless issues. Preteens will relate to Belle Teal, whose observations and realizations provide an eye-opening introduction to social and personal injustice. Ages 10-14.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Belle Teal begins fifth grade in the early `60s in the rural South with only one cloud on the horizon, her beloved grandmother's increasing forgetfulness. However, school turns out to be much more complicated this year as a result of the desegregation that brings in three African-American children, one of them to Belle's classroom. Students and parents are divided on this issue, and the conflicts are expressed in various hurtful and potentially dangerous ways. Other strands in the plot involve the Christmas pageant, a snooty new girl, and a classmate who is being physically abused by his father. Martin smoothly juggles these elements, moving the story along gracefully with a first-person, present-tense narration. The ending emphasizes the strength Belle finds with the women of her family and shows a simple acceptance of life's difficulties, an approach that shows respect for young readers. Some of the characters, including Belle herself, occasionally seem a bit too good to be true, and many kids may admire the protagonist rather than really relate to her. However, this doesn't significantly get in the way of the book's considerable child appeal and heart. Overall, while not especially profound or literary, this is a solid piece of work with an absorbing plot.

Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439098238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439098236
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Belle Teal is about a schoolgirl who has grown up on their family’s farm and is, more or less, the outcast at school. To add to that, the first African American children are being integrated into the elementary schools, and she befriends one of them quickly. Their evolving and growing friendship begins to center at showing the other kids that her friend isn’t that different from the rest of the kids. The racism and hypocrisy of the time Belle recognizes faintly, and it’s evident to her that sticking with those who care about her is important.
This book is meant for younger children in elementary school. I loved it when I read it because it introduced a lot of new ideas to me and got me thinking about the world in a greater sense than just my home, school, and experiences. I love it because it shows how the innocence and ignorance of children is stronger than things like racism and hate in the world, and how those degrading feelings are taught and not natural. I love it because it is so honest, and you can feel the hurt and struggle of this young girl as you read. For example, Belle Teal talks about her love for her grandmother: “Gran, she is amazing, even if she has become a little forgetful (1).” She is experiencing the pain that comes with a loved one having Alzheimer’s which is a very big thing for a young child to grasp. Another hard thing to deal with that I can definitely relate to is having a single mother who works her butt off at the expense of being able to spend time with each other. For example, “I wish Mama was home for my last day of summer freedom, but she went into Coker Creek this morning to begin her new job. Mama, she starts jobs like I start library books - one right after the other (2).
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By A Customer on June 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I liked the book it tells why being prejudice is never a good thing. The story is about a little girl, and her name is Belle Teal. She lives with her Grandma and Mother. She is excited about the first day of school, and her teacher is Ms. Casey. She loves her teacher. On the first day of school the colored children came to the school. The parents were very upset. They all had signs saying how the colored children should not be able to attend there school. When school started there was a colored boy in her class by the name of Darryl. The other children did not like him at all. Then there was a prissy girl by the name of Vanessa Mathers they named her HRH. The both of them were the new students in the class. The other boys Chas, Vernon, and Little Boss were the bullies of the class. Little Boss was never a bully until he started hanging around them. When CHRISTmas was there the class had a pageant to do. Belle Teal was Mary that made HRH mad. She thinks she is Queen B. Darryl got to be the king. Which made the other kids mad. Later on Little Boss was fooling around with his fathers gun and accidentally shot himself. He tried to tell his dad what happened his father blamed it on Darryl.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this story of a young girl, Belle Teal, growing up in the 60's when civil rights movements were taking place and schools were becoming integrated. Seeing things from Belle Teal's point of view gave me a different outlook of people during that time. I was especially surprised to feel her embarassment everyday when she had to walk into school with parents picketing because they did not like the fact that black children would now be attending what was once an all white school district. It was nice to see her befriend Darryl, the new African American boy, despite their racial differences. In the end, it was great to see her befriend Vanessa, another person who at first, Belle strongly disliked because of her differences. I also felt that many young readers could relate to Belle Teal and her family. Belle Teal's mother was struggling to keep her job and her grandmother seemed to be suffering a mild case of alzheimers. Belle had a lot of responsibility in her family, which is one issue that many kids with single parents can relate to. Belle Teal also acts as the heroine in the story when one of her closeset friends is the victim of his father's abusive behavior. Overall, Martin does an excellent job of addressing family, friend, and racial issues throughout this book.
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A Kid's Review on September 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I loved Belle Teal! Although it deals with mildly heavy subjects, it really shows them through the eyes of an innocent girl.
Belle Teal Harper is in the fifth grade. She meets a disliked African-American boy who becomes friends with her. However, one of her best friends has troubles with the boy, ending up in a serious fight.
This book kept my eyes glued to the page. This is a refreshing, fast-paced book that recaps how horrible racism is.
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A Kid's Review on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Author: Ann M. Martin

# of pages: 215

Publisher and Publication date: Scholastic Paperbacks-September 2001

ISBN: 0439098238

Price: $15.95

Imagine being a little girl that doesn't have very many friends, until someone new moves to her town. If you like books that give good detail and you could picture yourself there, then this is the book for you. In this book they teach you something, it gives you a message.

To begin this book has a great message. The message is you can't judge someone by the way someone else judges someone. Second, it makes you actually feel like it's something that's really happening. It describes things good and brings the characters to life. All in all it makes you feel like your really there. It gives really descriptive detail.

This book kind of reminds me of my life, because I don't really have that many friends. The family in this book is modern when it comes to having money, and mine is the same. This book is so good, because you feel like you could just jump into it, and go right along with the story.

People who don't really like a lot of action in a book, should read this book. Girls would mostly like this book. My friend Danielle Bolin had just checked out this book, and I told her that it was a really good book. I said" so how did you like the book?" and she replied "it was very interesting and I really liked it!" The age that would like it best would range from about 9 to 13. Females would like it best rather than males. Boys that are into games, action, and things like that would probably not like this book.

What sticks out to me the most is that Belle Teal doesn't care what people think about her or her friends, and the message. You should read this book. So remember if you like books with good descriptive detail, then this is the book for you.
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