Leanora Sutter. Esther Hirsh. Merlin Van Tornhout. Johnny Reeves . . .These characters are among the unforgettable cast inhabiting a small Vermont town in 1924. A town that turns against its own when the Ku Klux Klan moves in. No one is safe, especially the two youngest, twelve-year-old Leanora, an African-American girl, and six-year-old Esther, ...
Leanora Sutter. Esther Hirsh. Merlin Van Tornhout. Johnny Reeves . . .These characters are among the unforgettable cast inhabiting a small Vermont town in 1924. A town that turns against its own when the Ku Klux Klan moves in. No one is safe, especially the two youngest, twelve-year-old Leanora, an African-American girl, and six-year-old Esther, who is Jewish.In this story of a community on the brink of disaster, told through the haunting and impassioned voices of its inhabitants, Newbery Award winner Karen Hesse takes readers into the hearts and minds of those who bear witness.
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"Witness" is a book written in poetry. Each poem is the story of a character, Esther Hirsch, Leonora Sutter. Each page contains a poem that describes what that person experienced. The book is a moving and quick read but it is powerful. The Ku Klux Klan affected hundreds of people's lives throught out the U.S. during the time this book is set in and this book depicts what was occurring in nearly every state in the U.S. Hesse's book describes the drama and anxiety that was felt where ever the KKK sprung up. As you hear the words of a sweet six year old girl, a frustrated young black woman, a single woman who is making her own in a patriarchal society, and a husband and wife who are on opposite sides of the Klan, you discover a time in America when families were torn apart by the violence of ignorance. You also discover that there are people who are every-day-heroes, refusing to allow their town, their family, to be harmed by outside influences.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-08-20 The author of Out of the Dust again turns language into music in her second quietly moving novel written entirely in verse. Here, 11 narrative voices chronicle actual events occurring in a sleepy Vermont town after the arrival of the Ku Klux Klan in 1924. Those victimized by the Klan include the families of Leanora Sutter, a 12-year-old African-American girl, and Esther Hirsh, the six-year-old daughter of a Jewish shoe salesman. Rounding out the portrait of the town are community leaders (an enlightened physician, a newspaper editor who moves from neutral to anti-Klan) as well as less prominent folk shopkeepers, a Protestant minister who are swayed into joining the white supremacist group. Their chorus of hatred rings loudly at first, but is tempered by their dawning realization of the severity of the Klan's punishment to their targets as well as the more rational, compassionate strains of the Klan's opponents. Hesse offers glimpses of the world at large through references to Prohibition, the Leopold and Loeb case and a letter Leanora pens to Helen Keller. The author distinguishes the characters (whose pictures appear in the front of the book) not only by their varying opinions but also by their tone of speech. The simpler, candid language of the two youngest cast members, Leanora and Esther, effectively crystallizes their gradual loss of innocence. Easily read in one sitting, this lyrical novel powerfully records waves of change and offers insightful glimpses into the hearts of victims, their friends and their enemies. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-10 PW wrote in our Best Books citation, "Hesse weaves together 11 distinct narrative voices to create a moving account of the Ku Klux Klan's encroachment on a small Vermont town in 1924. Told completely in verse, her quietly powerful novel addresses the inevitable loss of innocence that accompanies the fight for social justice." Ages 9-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2001-10-22 Hesse's (Out of the Dust) powerful, history-inspired novel about the Ku Klux Klan's encroachment on a small town in 1924 Vermont becomes a riveting audiobook as performed by a stellar cast. The storyAtold in poetry, in the voices of 11 charactersAis surprisingly easy to follow; listeners are introduced to each distinctive character voice at the outset and are soon caught up in the strong narrative rhythm, able to discern who's who. Fine showings from Heather Alicia Simms (When Kambia Elaine Came Down from Neptune) as Leonora Sutter, a 12-year-old African-American girl, and Jenna Lamia in the role of six-year-old Esther Hirsh, a Jewish immigrant child, anchor the proceedings and give this production its heart. Colorful supporting characters, some with evocative New England accents, subtly and effectively draw listeners into Hesse's thought-provoking themes. At program's end, listeners are treated to bonus material: a meaty interview with Hesse conducted by author and children's book historian Leonard S. Marcus. Hesse reveals, among other things, her inspiration for the book and her research methods. Ages 12-up. Simultaneous release with the Scholastic hardcover, reviewed in Children's Forecasts, Aug. 20. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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