A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Introduces readers to Gullah-Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans who have maintained their cultural traditions through many generations in southern U.S. Main characters are living through desegregation of public schools in early 1960s.
Education is power. People and things are not always what they seem.
Positive Role Models
Depicts a loving family, built and nurtured by its late matriarch. Adults protect the children and prepare them, practically and supernaturally, for racism that increasingly affects them as they move into adolescence at the cusp of the civil rights movement. There are a number of helpful and supportive adults, such as a school nurse and a new sheriff who wants to cure past injustices.
Violence & Scariness
Police conduct unwarranted searches, intimidate and beat citizens, make unjust arrests. A man is attacked by a supernatural creature in cooperation with wild animals. There's a murder. In one scene, animals are harmed in the process of making traditional medicines.
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A girl is called a "bastard" at school, and her mother explains what it means and why the term shouldn't shame her.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eden Royce's Root Magic is about 11-year-old Jezebel and her twin brother, Jay, two African American children who are growing up in South Carolina in 1963, just as their school is being racially desegregated. They come from a family of "rootworkers" with supernatural knowledge. Their mother abandons her study of these folk teachings, but her brother, Doc, persuades her to let him pass the knowledge to the children. Police conduct unwarranted searches, intimidate and beat citizens, and make unjust arrests. A man is attacked by a supernatural creature in cooperation with wild animals. There's a murder. In one scene, animals are harmed in the process of making traditional medicines. A girl is called a "bastard" at school, and her mother explains what it means and why the term shouldn't shame her.
Is It Any Good?
In this tender story, a family learns to cherish its history, heal from its traumas, and take advantages of the changing world. In Root Magic, first-time author Eden Royce artfully presents the universal challenge of straddling two worlds by introducing a family who has to do that in more ways than one: They practice a form of folk magic that originates in Africa, but live in the United States. The younger generation are in the final months of their childhood, with Jezebel anticipating getting her first period. The twins are approaching the time when their lives move apart, as their gender begins to matter more. And South Carolina is desegregating the schools, thrusting the family out of its familiar community into a new world of possibilities. A strength of this novel is the combination of a luxuriously slow pace with moments of intense drama and excitement.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.