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For Teachers, Children's Literature @ NYPL
Booktalking "Black Storm Comin'" by Diane Lee Wilson
12-year-old Colton first becomes entranced by the Pony Express when travelling in the 1860 westward expansion on a wagon train. A horse and clinging boy sped past him and did not look back. Got him to wonderin' what kind of excitement it would be to taste that speed and urgency. So, he tries his luck and gets hired (even tho' the manager would have preferred if he were 14 years old). And to prove his meddle, he tames a black demon. But that demon ends up waking Colton up when he was 'bout to die of hypothermia. Horse wasn't much to look at, but Colton says the following about him:
"We were still blood and bone and heart and muscle, and it didn't matter what the world saw when it looked at us. Long as we knew who we were and what we could do."
Racism, freedom papers, Lincoln becoming president, and 12-year-old boy Colton (25% Colored), "passes" as white. His ma is half colored and his pa is white, and Colton strives to deliver an important message to his mother's sister, who is tantalizingly close to the Pony Express route, but not attainable. Here's how Colton conceptualizes the races that mix together in his arteries.
"I hated any talk of how one of my folks was white and one was mixed blood, like they were some kinda dogs, purebred and mongrel. They were just folks, is all."
Black Storm Comin' by Diane Lee Wilson