Mildred Taylor's legacy: Roll of Thunder and the Logan Household Saga

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The legacy of Mildred Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a "must". To be honest, we at Redeemed Reader refuse to tell you that every book except the Bible is a must. But Roll of Thunder is very close.

Mildred Taylor received a Newbery Medal for Roll of Thunder in 1976. The book immediately became the standard in the classroom and remains so to this day. It's a beautiful book about an ugly time: the experience of a black family in the Mississippi of the 1930s.

Mildred Taylor went on to write more about the Logan family in a series of novels spanning multiple ages (list below). The stories are based on the stories of Taylor's own family – starting with the ones her father told her. Interestingly, everyone I read shows a prominent bus scene. Knowing this, the epilogue in the last novel is the perfect ending.

Taylor also manages to write fiction that deals directly with racism, but in a way that doesn't spoil all whites or praise all blacks. No, the characters in their stories are all free agents. The broader white culture is not friendly to the logans, but it serves to increase the feebleness of certain characters, even if it serves to increase the bravery of other characters. While the African American community is generally the victim overall, Taylor shows the effects of stupid decisions made by some and wise actions of others.

"Baby, we have no choice what color we were born in or who our parents are or whether we are rich or poor. What we have is a choice about what we do with our lives when we are here."

~ Cassie's mother, Roll of Thunder, hear my cry

In short, keeping the temperament, treating everyone with dignity regardless of skin color, and sacrificing for those you love and respect are values ​​that overcome cultural differences.

The African American Church is an important source of community, strength and encouragement for the Logans and their friends and relatives. The Logans themselves allude to their belief in the Lord and several scenes show them praying for guidance for the coming days. These books are not "Christian novels," but Mildred Taylor certainly gives readers a strong picture of faith in the midst of trials.

Please note: Taylor is not afraid to use a language that reflects the period, such as B. the “n-word” and includes violence over time.

Chapter books by Mildred Taylor:

In general, her chapter books are not as strong as Taylor’s middle school and young adult titles. Your writing is not singing so brightly. They are good for a fifth or sixth grader who "met" Cassie in Roll of Thunder but does not yet have the necessary reading skills or general maturity to read the other titles, to provide additional reading. I only read the song of the trees in its entirety.

  • Song of the Trees
  • Mississippi bridge
  • Friendship
  • The golden Cadillac

Mid-range books by Mildred Taylor:

I've only read Roll of Thunder in this list, but these other two are also in the general middle-class age group. The fountain is shorter than Let the Circle Be Unbroken.

  • Roll of thunder, hear my cry
  • The fountain
  • Let the circle be unbroken

Young Adult Novels by Mildred Taylor:

Mildred Taylor is not afraid of the difficult parts, the reality that her characters would have faced in their situations. These novels show young people who come of age in an anti-majority culture. Taylor discreetly writes about some of these exams, but these are definitely books for teenagers, not middle school.

  • The way to Memphis
  • The country
  • All past days, all coming days

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Cover

* Roll of thunder, hear my cry

9-year-old Cassie Logan goes to school with her brothers and a friend when the white children's bus drives down on them. Cassie's brother Stacey is forced to flee to the muddy side of the street while white children mock her from the bus. He swears revenge. After taking revenge on the school bus, Cassie's family settles into her Mississippi life in the 1930s. Work is hard, food is scarce at times, but they own their land (instead of sharing it). Cassie's father has to work on the railroad, far from home. Her mother loses her teaching job and the family is worried about making enough money to pay taxes on the precious land. The racial tensions in the community are high, people are injured and the character of a person is put to the test. If the conflict between the white and black communities comes to an end, there will be shaky peace only if the country itself is in danger.

Note: a boy is seriously injured; sensitive young readers may want to wait until grade 7 or 8, although I have successfully read this book with grade 5 and 6 students.

* indicates a star rating, the best of the best

Road to Memphis cover picture

The way to Memphis

As in Roll of Thunder, buses and cars play a prominent role in The Road to Memphis. Stacey bought a car, a nice car. He is tired of having to stand in the back of public buses. Cassie grows up and looks beautiful; her friend Mo sure believes it. The combination of a Negro who owns a beautiful car and has a beautiful sister brings about the worst in some parts of the white community. When trouble arises, Stacey's friend Mo reacts, accidentally killing a white man and wounding several others in a clash. The Logan's old friend, Jeremy Sims, helps Mo get out of town. Stacey, Cassie, and another friend pick him up in Jackson and drive to Memphis, hoping to find a train that will carry Mo North. Problems with the car, malicious white rednecks at a gas station and Pearl Harbor make things difficult. Cassie and Stacey grow up in this novel, directing adults' concerns away from home.

Note: This book contains white men who are making progress to Cassie and making rude comments that most readers recognize for the threat they are. She also recognizes her and her fear is palpable. There is also a pregnant teenager and some discussions about who the father could be (the answer is revealed in the book). Violence, the death of at least two characters, and the general ugliness of time make this book firmly in the teen category. Nothing overly graphic, but Taylor's gift for graciously dealing with sand can be seen in full. The book is worth reading and discussing, but keep it for your teenagers.

All past days, all coming days

The last novel in the Logan family saga is a fitting conclusion. Cassie is in her early 20s, an adult who goes her own way in the world. First she lives in Chicago with Stacey and his family and sees Mo every now and then. When Stacey goes to California to see Uncle Hammer, Cassie accompanies her. In an outbreak of independence, she decides to stay alone in California. Racially, it is certainly better than Chicago. And definitely better than Mississippi. Come and find out that people are human and that there are bad eggs in every church. After Cassie's boss has made dangerous progress with her, her boyfriend saves her. Love flourishes in marriage, but a tragic accident shortens the marriage. Cassie has to learn to assert herself in this early adult novel: she learns that racism is everywhere, that single women cannot be naive and that it is worth fighting for some causes.

Note: This novel is very marital, with the firm understanding that the double bed should be kept clean (enough to be a subtopic of the novel). That being said, Cassie's relationship with a man at the end of the novel is vague enough to leave the door open for a sexual relationship (in addition to her obvious romantic one). This novel works best for older teenagers and teens in their early 20s, also because this is Cassie's own age and her concerns reflect it (marriage, work, etc.). Cassie and her family openly discuss these adult concerns. It is a beautiful novel and it is worth reading / discussing.

Related reading from the redeemed reader:

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