Song of the Trees
by Mildred D. Taylor
This prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
is quite a short book. In fact it goes by almost startlingly, bewilderingly fast. But at the same time, it is filled with passages of timeless poetry. Almost like a tragic fairy tale, it fills in an important gap in the story of the Logan family, set in the backdrop of Depression-era Mississippi. And like the longer and greater book it is connected to, Song of the Trees
depicts moments of lightheartedness, moments of fear and despair, and moments of fierce hope in quick succession, without ever becoming preachy or inflammatory.
Nevertheless, there is a great sorrow, yes, and even something to be very angry and ashamed about, behind the events in this story. In fact, there are several sorrowsthe sorrow of hardship as a poor family scrapes to get by and stay together on their own land; the sorrow of racism, with its power for division and injustice in the American South; and the sorrow of the magnificent old forests, which were cleared away in a very disrespectful and mercenary way, all combined together.
Together these sorrows could have become a novel of great dramatic power. But what Mrs. Taylor has given us, according to her own notes on the book, is closer to reality. It is merely a lyrical description of a brief moment of loss, adapted from the true stories told by Mrs. Taylors father. I think this honesty and directness of expression makes the point far better than an overblown novel would have done. But you can read it quickly enough to see for yourself!
Recommended Age: 10+
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