Tonight, by Sea

by Frances Temple and Tim O'Brien

Darkness approaches as Paulie runs to borrow a live coal from a neighbor in Belle... read more

Darkness approaches as Paulie runs to borrow a live coal from a neighbor in Belle Fleuve on a Haitian beach. After the girl fans a flame from the ember placed on seaweed, her Grann Adeline will cook a small fish for supper. Paulie's uncle, the village coffin-maker, has begun to build a boat. Uncle will craft the vessel by cunning, construct it with used boards and nails, caulk it using pig hair with burlap, and grace it with a worship pole. Until now, Uncle, Grann, and their community have struggled to survive under the slavery of constant hunger, the shadow of a teacher's disappearance, the gradual erosion of their freedoms and governance through terror. Paulie's parents are already "across the water" in Miami. An American journalist wants their story to reach the outside world, but his video camera holds as much danger for them as a gun. By the time Paulie and those surviving the voyage reach another shore, readers will be familiar with a folktale about hope. Like Paulie, they will find out about the Amistad, another boat dedicated to life. They will realize that one can be killed or changed by "habits of truth." Temple's fine prose, deft dialogue and compassionate heart fill a terrific story that takes readers behind the faces in the evening news, straight to the people whose lives hang in the balance. Honor Book, 1995 CCBC Newbery Discussion (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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