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The hired hand : an African-American folktale /

Old Sam hires a man to help out at his saw mill, and the hired hand also teaches Sam's lazy son a lesson about how to treat people. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Pinkney, Jerry,
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997
Edition: First edition.
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Old Sam hires a man to help out at his saw mill, and the hired hand also teaches Sam's lazy son a lesson about how to treat people.

Review by Booklist Review

Ages 5-9. Old Sam, the owner of a prospering sawmill, hires additional help because his own son is so lazy. The "New Hand" is conscientious and willing to work for free in order to learn the trade--a fact that Young Sam is quick to exploit. When an elderly customer arrives complaining of back pain, the New Hand sends the Sams away and performs a miracle, making the man young and healthy again. Later, Young Sam (who secretly observed the transformation) tries to repeat the trick on the customer's wife, with disastrous results. Just as Young Sam is being carted off to jail for murder, the New Hand reappears, and, satisfied that Sam has learned his lesson, resurrects the woman, enabling Sam to go free. San Souci and Pinkney's latest collaboration is based on an African American folktale first recorded in 1871 by a black Virginian. Pinkney's characteristic watercolor illustrations portray one of several small Virginia towns where free blacks lived, owned property, and worked in the late 1700s. He successfully blends historically realistic details with timeless folkloric magic, and he enhances San Souci's smooth retelling in the process. An obvious choice for primary story hours, this will also make a welcome addition to African American folklore and history units. (Reviewed February 15, 1997)0803712960Kay Weisman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Seasoned collaborators San Souci and Pinkney (The Talking Eggs) weave themes of magic, rebirth and retribution into another splendid retelling of an African American folk tale. The story, told in homespun dialect, involves a stranger who turns up at a sawmill looking for work. Although the man is "as shabby as a worn-out shoe," Old Sam, the owner, is delighted to hire him. But Old Sam's shiftless, "no 'count" son soon spies out the hardworking New Hand's magical powers, and when his high-handed, "biggity" ways drive the stranger away, he attempts to duplicate the man's trick of rejuvenating people by transforming them into wood, sawing them apart, soaking them in water and anointing them with a drop of his own blood. Young Sam gets the incantations right ("Sawdust!/ Do what you must!/ Turn this skin an' bone to wood/ So my saw cut but don' draw blood"), but cheats on the final step, with disastrous results. In the end, the hired hand reappears at the remorseful Young Sam's murder trial and saves the day. Informed by the careful research for which this dynamite duo is so well known and graced with Pinkney's charismatic watercolors, the tale has a particularly interesting setting: an antebellum Virginia community of free black craftsmen, upon which the artist elaborates in an afterword. Shivery and superbly crafted. Ages 5-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4‘The Hired Hand explores the danger associated with stealing someone's magic. It echoes this talented team's collaboration for The Talking Eggs (Dial, 1989) in its distinguished appearance, understated mood, straightforward retelling, and even pace. The story spins around a New Hand at a sawmill who returns youthfulness to an old man, and a miller's son who tries unsuccessfully to duplicate that feat for profit. San Souci makes a choice in favor of "softening the heavy use of dialect," found in the original tale. Pinkney adopts a corresponding tone in his illustrations, polishing any harshness away. Pencil sketches showing through his watercolors add character and interest, but never mar the finish. The result is a first-class treat for readers' eyes and ears. However, the prettiness has a price. The beauty (each illustration perfectly composed and delivered in a charming palette of subdued colors; each bit of dialogue tastefully framed; each character devastatingly handsome) keeps drawing readers' attention back to the surface, to the elegance of the presentation. Beneath that surface, down where the folktale's dynamic themes of filial disobedience, sin and redemption, and the search for immortality all converge, is where the real power lies. Libraries looking for African-American folktales should consider this title and bask in the splendor of its delivery. For fun, pair it with dePaola's Strega Nona (S&S, 1975), in which another magician wannabe misses the master's nuance.‘Liza Bliss, Worcester Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Robert D. San Souci was born on October 10, 1946 in San Francisco, California. He attended college at St. Mary's College in Moraga. After holding jobs in book stores and in publishing, he became a full-time author in 1974.

He was best known for his adaptations of folklore for children. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 books for young readers including Song of Sedna, Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend, The Talking Eggs, Two Bear Cubs, Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, Brave Margaret: An Irish Tale, Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow, and Cinderella Skeleton. He wrote 12 books which were illustrated by his younger brother Daniel San Souci including The Legend of Scarface, Sister Tricksters: Rollicking Tales of Clever Females, and As Luck Would Have It: From The Brothers Grimm. He also wrote nonfiction works for children, several novels for adults, and the film story for Disney's Mulan.

The Legend of Scarface won the Notable Children's Trade Book in the Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies, and was a Horn Book honor list citation. Sukey and the Mermaid won the American Library Association's Notable Book citation in 1992 and Cut from the Same Cloth won an Aesop Award from the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society. He died on December 19, 2014 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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