“This is an endearing and charming first novel.” —Karen Hesse
FOREWORD REVIEWS INDIEFAB BOOK OF THE YEAR GOLD MEDAL WINNER FOR CHILDREN’S FICTION!
Have you ever had the feeling you weren’t loved by the momma God gave you? Lucky for Gracie, she has two mommas. One cares for her every day while the other goes off to work. One is happy, strong and free while the other is sad, dark and depressed. One is black. The other is white. One Gracie must leave.
Grace Callaway lives down deep in Alabama during a turbulent time of protests, boycotts, and sit-ins. It is a segregated world where black and white won’t mix. But don’t tell that to Ida Bell and Grace.
Ida Bell has been Gracie’s nanny since the day she came home from the hospital in a shoebox. They love each like a real mother and daughter. Even way more. But the summer Grace turns ten, her white momma decides they need to move away.
Moving means just one thing: leaving Ida Bell. Grace knows she cannot go. She knows she cannot let go. How can she leave the person who raised her when her real momma couldn’t? How can she leave the person who taught her how to walk, and who took her to her first day of school when her real momma wouldn’t? If she leaves, who will keep her secrets? Who will hold her? Who will love her?
She can’t leave. She won’t. There must be a way to stay.
Blackberries and Cream is the compassionate and insightful story of a young white girl balancing her love for her African-American caregiver and her depressed mother in 1960s Alabama. Full of Southern charm and subtle wisdom, this novel explores the meanings of love, family, and courage in a heartfelt coming-of-age tale that will resonate with children and adults alike. This novel comes at a poignant moment in our society when racial prejudices still linger and the challenges to diversity in children’s literature remain difficult to confront. Blackberries and Cream is perfectly suited to help cultivate awareness about these issues, inspiring meaningful reflection and discussion in young readers. It is 210 pages long and can be considered children’s fiction (middle grade) and historical fiction. Green Writers Press is honored to be the publisher.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie Rivver grew up in the Deep Alabama South. She ventured up the east coast for college and graduate school, spent close to a decade teaching children on the Arctic shores of Alaska, and now lives on a wild and cold mountain in Vermont. A few other facts about Leslie: She has two of the best kids in the world, but one of the worse cats. She would rather be around kids than most people of other ages. She is small and strong, likes to laugh, and loves a good story.
“Brimming with wisdom and mischief, this tender, heartfelt celebration of an abiding friendship between a white girl and her black caregiver in 1960s Alabama reminds us that the love we experience in childhood has the power to sustain us through a lifetime of change.”
–Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee’s Bend
“Leslie’s book will be out this fall from Vermont’s own Green Writers Press. She is a certified elementary teacher and librarian and the mom of two young children. Les would love to introduce Blackberries and Cream to your school or library with a reading, talk, or interactive activities. It’s a beautifully written and highly entertaining story about the way love can, and often does, overcome just about anything. I can’t wait to read it with my own grandchildren.”
—Howard Frank Mosher, author of God’s Kingdom and many other books
“Leslie Rivver’s first novel, Blackberries and Cream, is a tender story set in the Civil Rights’ Era South, a story that evokes a time and a place in America’s past that was fraught with the stain of its history, but had pockets of deep love, kindness, protection, and understanding. It is a story of a family in difficulty, a little girl and her best friend, her African-American caretaker Ida Bell, and their last days together before parting forever. While this is Gracie’s story, its heroine is Ida Bell, the woman who opened her heart to this little girl who needed so much care and love. Open the book and listen. Her characters, all of them, sound like they should. Their diction and syntax come directly out of the South, out of the time and place and the mouths of real people . . . the experience becomes almost like watching a stage play, real people moving in your vision, talking and laughing, crying and singing, becoming what all great Southern novels become—a deeply-felt, lived experience.” —Sharon Darrow
“Blackberries and Cream, which is for adolescent or young adult readers, is about a southern girl who has an aloof mother, not an unkind one. In fact, she’s rather intent on helping others; her children just don’t happen to be in her immediate radar. And she suffers from depression. In mom’s place, there’s Ida Bell, the black woman who has always been the children’s nanny and who loves young Grace in the present and affectionate way that children yearn that their mothers will. It’s a calmly told story about an Alabama girl, her particular circumstances, the world—both large and small—that she lives in, and the people she loves. It’s an act of bravery in a writer to write such a book. You can, maybe, disguise bad writing behind a compelling mystery or act of violence, but you cannot get away with being a bad writer if you write about day-to-day life, or a character driven story. This is a beautifully written book with sentences that you wonder why you’d never thought of before . . . it’s a big story, told in a quiet way.”—Tena Starr, The Barton Chronicle
“Rendered in a child’s voice, this novel captures—with compassion and warmth—the spirit of rural middle-class life in the Deep South during the 1960s. The narrator, Gracie-girl, is a delightful narrator! It’s the story of her attachment to Ida Bell, the family housekeeper. Young readers will be eager to follow the evolution of this young girl’s emotional life—complete with “blackberry eating dogs”! And there’s sadness, too, that comes with having to move on. Reader’s of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers will feel enthusiastic about Gracie-girl!” —Clarence Major, National Book Award finalist
“Leslie Rivver’s bildungsroman Blackberries and Cream features the story of 10-year-old Grace Callaway who is hard at work making sense of her world in 1965 Alabama. . . .This story of the bonds between mothers and daughters, blood and otherwise, and of loyalty and friendship is not to be missed. It is as sweet as the blackberries and cream that he characters enjoy and that lends its image to the title.” —Darcie Abbene, Vermont Woman magazine
ABOUT THE COVER ARTIST
“I like to capture anything that appeals to me. A landscape, person or event … the end result is a photograph or digital illustration done with the most modern tools available to me. Mostly working in the abstract … I take everyday objects found and photographed with my iPhone. Images are deconstructed, exaggerated and pushed until they become pleasing to me. I like bold patterns and shapes, bringing everyday objects that people take for granted and bring out the beauty I see in them.”
A Young Adult novel (Middle Grade Reader) Fiction
5.5 x 8.5; hardcover/casebound; 224 pages; $24.95
ISBN: 978-0-9961357-7-1 (hc) 978-0-9961357-9-5 (e-book)
Distributed by Midpoint Trade Books/Ingram/Baker and Taylor.
Pub Date: November 2, 2015