Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Woods's (The Red Rose Box) solid historical fiction relays the story of a 12-year-old born into slavery on a Georgia plantation in 1790. Offering a believable, horrifying portrayal of life as a captive, Sally May Harrison's first-person narrative chronicles her labors in the cotton fields while her mother grinds corn and her ironworker father teaches his skills to her brother. After Joshua, a kind house slave, tells Sally May's Pa that their master is planning on giving the girl and her brother to the master's brother, Pa decides to run away with his family to the southern swamplands occupied by the Seminoles. Here, Joshua tells Pa, "colored is free to live amongst 'em long as they work the land and give a portion of their crop to the chief. In return, they gives you protection from the white man." The family escapes in the night, on a journey fraught with trauma: the four narrowly escape detection by slave hunters, Pa and Sally May contract fever, and Mama dies after being attacked by a gator. Woods's account of how the surviving three family members assimilate into the Seminole culture is involving and bittersweet. The constantly singing narrator-whose new clan gives her the name reflected in the title-takes solace in sharing her thoughts with her much-missed mother. Sally Little Song believes her mother watches over her, and concludes that, "as long as there was slavery in this place called 'Merica," she will be "neither slave nor free." Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.