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Belle Teal

by Ann M. Martin
214 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by bookRacoon

An honest, historical read about black integration in schools.

Plot

Belle Teal, a kind girl from a rather poor family, describes her fifth grade year, when she befriends Darryl, one of the first Negro kids her school has ever had. She tells of her summer and all of the events going on that year at her school, from baking festivals to the struggles her African-American friend faces each day.

Morality

Belle is a brutally honest, caring girl who at first can't even understand why people would treat blacks differently than whites. Many times she gets angry at those who show hate to Darryl.

There is also a bully named Vanessa whom Belle tries very hard to get along with.

Spiritual Content

Belle's grandma sings religious songs, and took Belle's mother to church every Sunday. Belle's mom, however, is not religious.

Violence

The drunk dad of Belle's classmate beats him regularly, causing him to have new bruises very often. Someone accidentally gets shot in the leg.

Drug and Alcohol Content

One of Belle's classmate's dad drinks constantly, to the harm of his young son.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The N word is suggested several times, although always in a historical context.

Conclusion

I enjoyed this book - the first-person perspective of an eleven-year old girl was very honest, very open. It shows how ugly racism and drinking were and are, and how good loving friends are. Historically accurate yet with points of humor.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

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