The Book Reviews – Website

January 18, 2009

The Land

The Land

Author: Mildred D. Taylor

Page Length: 375

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: The time is the 1870’s, the setting is the Southern United States and the main character is Paul-Edward Logan.  Paul was the child of a white man and a woman of Indian and Black mix.  Paul looked white but was referred to as a “white nigger”.  Paul has three half-brothers who share his dad as their father.  Paul’s older sister, Cassie, had the same father and mother. 

As the story begins, Paul is often beat up by Mitchell, an African American boy whose dad works for Paul’s dad.  Paul’s older brothers will not defend Paul against Mitchell, so Paul eventually makes a deal with Mitchell to teach him to “read, write, and figure” if Mitchell will teach him how to fight. The boys stick to this arrangement and become best friends.

Paul’s dad, unlike many white men, acknowledges Paul and Cassie as his children, but when Paul and his half-brother, Robert, have a conflict in front of a white family, it is Paul who is whipped and punished.  Paul realizes that things will never be the same, so he and Mitchell decide to run away.  This begins the adventure they have together trying to make a life for them.  

REVIEW: The Land is the prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  Mildred Taylor writes the book that is based on stories she was told by her parents and grandparents.  The book is historical in that it accurately describes the racial prejudices that resulted in the abolishment of slavery.  The attitudes of the white people towards African Americans are well depicted. 

The characters and their relationships are well-developed, the setting of the south is well described, and the adventures of Mitchell and Paul keep the plot moving at a fast pace.  This is an excellent book for African-American students to read to learn of the hardships their ancestors had to endure before the Civil Rights Movement.

At the back of the book, there is an author’s note, Saga of the Logan Family, and a section with discussion questions that could be used in a book study or when used as a supplement to a class novel.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Character, Setting, Theme, Conflict, and Historical Context

RELATED BOOKS: Song of the Trees, The Well, Mississippi Bridge, The Friendship, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis, Logan, The Gold Cadillac

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1978), Sounder (1972)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.webenglishteacher.com/mtaylor.html

www.litplans.com/authors/Mildred_D_Taylor.html

www.davis.k12.ut.us/curric/languagearts/grade8.html

www.theteacherscorner.net/seasonal/black-history-month

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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