About the BookMooncalf by Linda Zern Over Olympia and Leah's heads, Americans race the Russians to the moon; on their television sets young men fight and struggle in the mud of Viet Nam; and America holds its breath between heartbreaking tragedies. But on Miss Brinker's school bus, in the seat with the rip in the green plastic, Olympia and Leah fall in love, the way children do: immediately, completely, and without knowing or caring why they shouldn't. Olympia Crooms, with her happy hair, and Leah Breck, with her silly red dog, are two smart girls. Olympia's father works other men's orange groves in rural Central Florida and tells his daughter that school is the best way to reach for the stars. Leah's father moves his family from the Space Coast to the country where she and her brother can climb orange trees, imagine lions in the tall grass, and learn to feed baby cows milk from a bottle. At Evegan Elementary, two smart girls find each other and have to decide if they will learn the hardest lessons of all: the false traditions of their fathers.
"I never expected to be moved to tears by a book meant for adolescents. Buy it, read it, share it, and let yourself be changed by it." ~Lacey Smith
ExcerptOlympia’s voice was a whisper in Leah’s ear. “I don’t have those things, those cooties.”
“I know. I don’t even care what those things are.”
“Cootie bugs. Miss Rhodes is saying I have bugs crawling and living in my hair and at my house.”
“Miss Rhodes didn’t mean you.” Leah felt icky. “She couldn’t mean you.”
“It’s because I’m one of the poor kids, you know. She said it: sharecroppers.”
Without looking, Olympia pulled her hand out of Leah’s and started trying to flatten the wrinkles out of the crushed paper doily on the valentine. Leah put her hand over Olympia’s, the valentine a ruined mess under their fingers.
“But Miss Rhodes has hair just like yours.”
“No,” Olympia said, shaking her head. “No, Miss Rhodes doesn’t want hair like mine, like she had when she was a little girl. She wants white folk’s hair. That’s what Granny Mac says. ‘Cuz some colored folks like her don’t know who they want to be any more.’”
Leah looked at the neat part in her friend’s black braids, and loved the way Olympia’s barrettes danced when she dropped her head. She saw only the complicated, clever patterns in her friend’s clean black hair. Leah saw only Olympia.
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