Mirandy and Brother Wind
by Jerry Pinkney
As a prefatory note explains, this picture book was inspired by a photo of the author's grandparents winning a cakewalk``a dance rooted in Afro-American culture'and her grandfather's boast that, in her dancing, his wife had captured the wind. In the book, Mirandy determines to catch Brother Wind and have him for her partner in the upcoming junior cakewalk. She tries a number of tactics springing from folk wisdom, and finally succeeds in trapping her prey in the barn. At the contest, Mirandy chooses to dance with her friend Ezelbut, with Brother Wind to do her bidding, the two friends win the cakewalk in style. Told in spirited dialect and rendered in lavish, sweeping watercolors, this provides an intriguing look at a time gone by. As a story, however, it proves somewhat disappointing. After the colorful description of cakewalking in the author's note and the anticipation created through Mirandy's own eagerness, the brief and rather static scenes portraying the dance itself are a letdown. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1988 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3 Sultry watercolor washes in a realistic flowing style spread luxuriously and consistently over every two pages in this story set in the rural south. Young Mirandy wants to win her town's cakewalk jubilee, a festive dance contest. (According to the ``Author's Note,' this dance was ``first introduced in America by slaves. . .and is rooted in Afro-American culture.') Everyone says that if she captures the Wind he will do her bidding, but nobody seems to know how to capture him. In the end, Mirandy does believe that she has captured Brother Wind, but she also proves that she is a true friend to clumsy Ezel. McKissack's sincere belief in the joy of living is delightfully translated into this story which concludes, ``When Grandmama Beasley had seen Mirandy and Ezel turning and spinning, moving like shadows in the flickering candlelight, she'd thrown back her head, laughed, and said, `Them chullin' is dancing with the Wind!' ' A captivating story, with a winning heroine, told in black dialect. Gratia Banta, Germantown Public Library, Ohio
Copyright 1989 Cahners Business Information, Inc.