In the summer of 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina eleven-year-old Moses Thomas is finding his way through the ever changing reality of being a young black boy just a few decades after the end of the Civil War. Moses' father is one of the city aldermen and is a highly respected newspaperman. Moses' grandmother, Boo Nanny, can remember her days as a slave on a plantation and now clings to many of the old ways. Moses has these two strong role models in his life and he is being challenged by one learning situation after another this summer.
When your best friend looks like he's choosing another richer boy over you should you maintain your loyalty to him? If a mean white man thinks you've stolen his property and the circumstances has layers, should you go back to apologize? Moses finds himself enchanted by what his grandmother knows about the stars and the shells and the animals. Just look around you with your two eyes she says and you'll find out everything you need to know.
But a birthday trip on the train to Fayetteville, teaches Moses that the world is not fair and sometimes is not safe. Even a man as strong and revered as his father can be the target of the insanity of mob thinking.
A crow does not dip itself into ink everyday. Rather its being black is a normal part of our world as much as a the color white on a seagull. In those days of kerosene lit lamps the colors flicker. Sometimes white is good and black is good and sometimes white is bad and black is good. The old ways of Boo Nanny offer heritage and comfort and love but everyone must break the old chains and old ways of thinking and Moses, Cocoa Boy, as the next generation painfully watches the truth of his times and finds what he will need to take with him as he goes forth.
This is a rich story of a wonderful black family in the South at the turn of the last century. Its personalities make the history come alive and readers will walk in their shoes and feel the struggle, the injustice, the stupidity and the loss. Well done. 297 pages Ages 9-13