Throughout history, a lot of untold things happened that
deserve to be remembered and retold. That’s
especially true of black history and in this book, author
Joel Christian Gill offers up a few tales of inspiration and
Take, for instance, the story of Stagecoach Mary Fields.
At a time when the average man was not quite
five-and-a-half-feet tall, Mary stood six feet in height and
weighed 200 pounds. It’s been said that she never backed
down from work nor gunman, she was brave, she loved
baseball, and when the Postal Service needed a stagecoach
driver for a dangerous route, Mary literally fought to get
And then there’s the tale of Blind Tom Wiggins.
Born into slavery, Tom was without sight from his very first
day. He was also autistic and because of that, his master
didn’t think much about him – until the day that Tom sat
down at a piano and played beautiful music without having
received any lessons at all. Alas, his owner tricked Tom’s
mother into signing away his life and though Tom later
became famous, he was never given his freedom.
On the other side of the world, Millie and Christine McCoy
were perfectly willing to speak up for themselves. Also born
into slavery, in 1852, the girls were conjoined at the
pelvis and were exhibited in Paris as “freaks” that could
sing; their managers, in fact, called them “The Two-Headed
Nightingale.” They performed beautifully, and at age 15,
they used their voices to announce their decision that their
performances would no longer include “embarrassing public
medical examinations.” At the height of the Civil War, the
enslaved girls took complete control of their lives!
Have you ever thought about the parts of history you might
have missed? A small story here, a single person there,
things you might like to know about? If you’ve wondered,
then you can stop now: Strange Fruit Volume II helps
fill you in.
With a title based on a Billie Holliday song about lynching,
you can bet that the tales inside this book – most of which
come from the latter 1800s – are inspirational in the
courage shown by their subjects. Author Joel Christian Gill
brings eight individuals to light, telling about them with
sparse colors, illustrations, and few words; despite that
the stories begin awfully abruptly, that irresistible
artwork makes this book kid-friendly. A bibliography offers
a path toward more information.
While adults can (and will) surely enjoy this book and may
learn a thing or two, it’s really meant for those 11-and-up.
If a quick-to-read curiosity-satisfier is exactly what’s
needed for home or school, Strange Fruit Volume II is