By Augusta Scattergood
Scholastic, $16.99, 202 pages
It’s the summer of 1964 in Moss, Mississippi and Gloriana June “Glory” Hemphill is looking forward to her 12th birthday. Like every birthday before it, this one will be celebrated at the town’s community pool. Or will it? ||In the middle reader book Glory Be change is coming to Mississippi. Glory’s best friend, Frankie, tells her that Yankee “freedom people” are in Moss and causing trouble. The kind of trouble that could mean the town council will shut down the pool so it won’t be available to “the wrong type of people.” When Glory figures out what this means she vows to take a stand. In the meantime her burgeoning friendship with a Northern visitor threatens her relationship with Frankie and other members of her tight-knit community.
Author Augusta Scattergood tackles the subject of segregation from a child’s viewpoint with wit and a keen eye. Glory’s outspoken tendencies and tender heart combine to make her a winning and truthful narrator. Secondary plots featuring her older sister’s blossoming romance with an Elvis look-alike and a spiteful member of her preacher father’s congregation are entertaining. The most compelling character in Glory Be is Emma, the African American woman who is an integral part of the Hemphill household. She sums up this story’s message when she tells Glory, “Most people just scared of losing something precious to them.”
Reviewed by Ellison G. Weist