Middle-grade readers are in luck. Levine has written a
richly-realized tale of a powerful best-friendship and a boy's passage into
manhood during a shameful and violent period in America's past.
Moundville Alabama is the backdrop for twelve-year-old Dit
Sims' lively (occasionally hokey) first-person narrative. One of ten children of
a white family, Dit's days are filled with hunting, fishing, chopping wood, skipping stones
along the surface of the Black Warrior River, and lessons in a one-room school.
Rural life during the teens of the last century will absorb and shock young
twenty-first century readers: Levine confidently and convincingly describes
Dit's once-weekly baths in a washtub; his hand-wound twine baseball; his games
of marbles; his first disorienting and overwhelming experience watching a silent
movie; and the racial divisions, bigotry,...
Beyond the Book
Moundville, Alabama - Largest City in North America
By present day standards Moundville was a small town in 1917 and still is today,
but according to information presented by the
Moundville Archaeological Park, 800 years ago it was the location of
possibly the largest city in North America. The present-day town is
named after the 26 prehistoric burial mounds that are all that visibly remains
of the Mississippian culture that lived on the site from about A.D.
1000 to 1450.
At its most populous, the conurbation spanned about 300 acres (about half a
square mile) and had a population of about one thousand with an estimated
further ten thousand living in the surrounding valley.
Excavated burial sites have yielded grave goods from...