From the Publisher
About the Author: Acclaimed author Eleanora E. Tate feels strongly about creativity. "A nation survives by the creativity of its people who perpetuate the arts. When the arts decline, the nation declines; when the arts flourish, the nation flourishes." The essential thing, she believes, is "telling your message to the world."
Tate has been getting her message out with great power and impact. Her first young adult novel, Just an Overnight Guest, was made into a film starring Rosalind Cash and Richard Roundtree. It was named to the "Selected Films for Young Adults 1985" list by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. Her second novel, The Secret of Gumbo Grove, is a 1987 Parents' Choice Award winner.
Ideas come to her from many sources. The Secret of Gumbo Grove sprang from a three-part series of articles published in The Charleston Chronicle. It was about an old, weedy cemetery in Myrtle Beach where many of the resort's African-American founders are buried.
Also a journalist, Eleanora E. Tate comes from Canton, Missouri, and has written professionally for over 25 years. She is a former president of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. Tate is married to photographer Zack Hamlett, III, and they live in Morehead City, North Carolina.
From The Critics
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-- Fourth grader Mary Elouise Avery struggles with a low self-image in this consciousness-raising story of black pride. When Gumbo Grove Elementary School prepares for its annual Presidents' Month play, Mary Elouise is selected as narrator for the new black history segment. She dislikes the role, as she feels that it emphasizes the difference between her and her Barbiesque classroom idol, Brandy. Her mother scolds her for disposing of black dolls in favor of white dolls, and her perceptive grandmother advises her to ``love yourself for who you are.'' By story's end, her part in the play has given Mary Elouise a better understanding of her heritage. She also has a new idol, a black storyteller who perceives her angst and challenges her to seek any goal with determination. The message is clear, and the plot is predictable. Except for the condescending naivete of a white teacher, characters offer a positive perspective on black culture. This purposeful novel conveys the challenge of maintaining ethnic pride in a society dominated by whites. Mary Elouise learns about her heritage, herself, and friendship in this first-person narrative. Realistic dialogue and peer conflicts, plus Mary Elouise's insights make this an appropriate choice for young readers. --Gerry Larson, Chewning Junior High School, Durham, NC
Mary Elouise is dying to be in the school play, but the part she gets is the last one she wants - narrator of the Black History skit. Even though her grandmother, Big Momma, says it's important to remember her heritage, Mary Elouise hates being reminded about slavery and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She'd rather be in the skit about presidents with Brandy, the girl in her class with beautiful blond hair. Then one day, two storytellers come to school with glorious tales of Africa...and a new way for Mary Elouise to see herself and her heritage.