Glorious Glory Be….

Glory Be
By: Augusta Scattergood
208 pages
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-33180-7
Genre: historical fiction

In Glory Be, Augusta Scattergood has created a character who is thoughtful and inquisitive, intelligent and compassionate. She also happens to be eleven-years-old and living in Mississippi in 1964. Things are changing in her world – in small and big ways. To start with, Glory’s older sister Jesslyn suddenly doesn’t want to have anything to do with her and she can’t figure out why. Her best friend Franklin Cletus Smith (a.k.a. Frankie) spills a secret about the town pool closing “to repair cracks”. Why anyone would close her pool in the middle of summer is beyond Glory. But not everything is bad. On one of her daily to visit Miss Bloom at the library, Glory meets a new friend who is a Yankee from up north in Ohio. Laura and her mother are visiting Hanging Moss to help open the Freedom Clinic on the outskirts of town.

Glory also has Emma, who has cooked and cared for the Hemphill family for as long as she can remember. Glory’s mama passed away when she was young, Emma is close to the family and helps to fill a motherly role in Glory & Jesslyn’s life. The young protagonist clearly loves her deeply. “I looked hard at our hands together. Emma was right – they were different. Mine were getting nearly as big as Emma’s, but her hands were the color of her coffee. Mine were as white as Wonder bread.” As life unfolds, Glory begins to realize that not everyone thinks the same way that she does and that maybe the biggest problem in town is not if the pool will be open for her birthday on July 4th.

Engaging, well-researched historical fiction for middle grade readers is not always easy to find. Incorporating the elements of history that are accurate and integral to the story while creating characters that today’s younger readers can connect with can be a challenge. One of the highlights of this book is that the voices of these characters do not simplify the emotions or complexity of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Readers experience Glory’s frustration as she tries to understand what is happening in her community all while her sister insists that she is too young to understand; her preacher father is busy writing sermons and working at the church; and her best friend Frankie is not acting like a best friend. I currently live with an eleven-year-old (going on twelve) and see her working through these ideas of self and larger society, friendship and authority on a regular basis. Scattergood has created this multi-dimensional eleven-year-old girl so accurately that I found myself wanting to praise and encourage Glory for standing up for her beliefs. I can’t wait to share her story with my college students and my own daughters.

Note: I wanted to be sure and write about the book and the writing as a stand along work, but I also know how many teachers are always looking for good titles and connections to curriculum. I’ve included them here as a separate list (if you have other ideas, please be sure to make comment to this post and add it):

Classroom Connections
– classroom library: historical fiction shelf
– connections to social studies curriculum: civil rights movement
– literary/writing mentor text: first person narrative
– research: on her website Ms. Scattergood’s writes about the importance of getting the history “right” and doing research even though this is a work of fiction, she includes books, websites & other sources that students could explore to see how facts were used to support and build the story

Check out Augusta Scattergood’s website for more information about her, writing this book and classroom connections: http://www.ascattergood.com/

Advanced review copy received from Scholastic at ALA Midwinter Convention.

Kristin McIllhagga

@kmcilhagga

Kristin McIlhagga has been a member of the Nerdy Book Club since getting her first library card at the age of four. Kristin has been an elementary classroom teacher, elementary music teacher, and gifted & talented resource teacher in both Michigan and Minnesota. She is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction & Teacher Education at Michigan State University where she teaches children’s literature and elementary language arts methods courses. Her research focuses on children’s literature in teacher education.