Reviews for Dark-Thirty : Southern Tales of the Supernatural


Kirkus Reviews 1992 October
McKissack invites readers to gather in the ``dark-thirty''- -the eerie half hour when dusk darkens to night--for ten shivery tales inspired by African-American folklore and history. The historical links are especially potent: in the ``The Legend of Pin Oak,'' a free mulatto and his family escape re-enslavement by leaping from a cliff; in ``We Organized''--written in free verse and based on an actual narrative--a cruel owner is forced by magic to free his slaves. An African-American lynched by the KKK, and another left by a white bus-driver to freeze to death, return to haunt their tormentors; when a dying Pullman porter hears ``The 11:59,'' he knows it's time to go. Each tale is told in a simple, lucid style, embellished by a few deftly inserted macabre details and by one of Pinkney's dramatic, swirling scratchboard illustrations. A fine collection that teaches as it entertains. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1998 December #3
In these stories "haunting in both senses of the word," said PW's starred review ghosts exact vengeance for lynchings, and slaves use ancient magic to ensure their freedom; historical backdrops run from the Underground Railroad to 1960s activism. Ages 8-up. (Dec.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1992 September #1
When I was growing up in the South, writes McKissack, we called the half hour just before nightfall the dark-thirty. Her nine stories and one poem, however, are far too good to be reserved for that special time when it is neither day nor night and when shapes and shadows play tricks on the mind. These short works-haunting in both senses of the word-explore aspects of the African American experience in the South, from slavery to the Underground Railroad and emancipation, from the era of Pullman cars to the desegregation of buses, from the terror of the Ku Klux Klan to '60s activism. Here, African Americans' historical lack of political power finds its counterbalance in a display of supernatural power: ghosts exact vengeance for lynchings; slaves use ancient magic to enforce their master's promise of emancipation. As carefully executed as McKissack's writings, Pinkney's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations enhance the book's atmosphere, at once clearly regional in setting and otherworldly in tone. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1992 December
Gr 4 Up-- Ten original stories, all with a foundation in African-American history or culture. Some are straight ghost stories, many of which are wonderfully spooky and all of which have well-woven narratives. There is a tale from slavery times; a story set among the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and one from the 1940s segregated South, in which a black man's ghost brings revenge upon the white klansman who murdered him. Strong characterizations are superbly drawn in a few words. The atmosphere of each selection is skillfully developed and sustained to the very end. Pinkney's stark scratch-board illustrations evoke an eerie mood, which heightens the suspense of each tale. This is a stellar collection for both public and school libraries looking for absorbing books to hook young readers. Storytellers also will find it a goldmine. --Kay McPherson, Central Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, GA Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.

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