The Red Rose Box
A 2003 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
The place is Sulphur, Louisiana and the Civil Rights Movement is on the
horizon as sisters Leah and Ruth Hopper venture out of the Jim Crow South
for the first time.
The first thing you need to know about the red rose box is that I
wasn't expecting anything. I suppose that's when most good things come,
when you're not looking.
It was the middle of June 1953, nearly noon, my tenth birthday. Ruth, my
sister was eight. We were sitting out front, Ruth and I, watching the day go by,
when Gramma's gentleman friend, Elijah, drove up. Gramma was sitting in the
back of his rusty black truck, her legs dangling. She was holding a big box
wrapped in brown paper, and we ran up to her, buzzing like bees around a
peach tree in bloom, because we thought our third cousin Lettie had sent us
more pralines and peach preserves from New Orleans. Gramma stumbled out
of the truck and Elijah drove off, not saying anything, like he usually did. All
we saw was his brown hand waving.
Ruth tugged on Gramma's worn yellow skirt and asked, “What you got in
Gramma replied, her tone made snappy by the heat, “Nuthin for you,” so I
just stepped aside.
I ran to the screen door, opened it for Gramma, and walked in after her.
Gramma looked around and asked,”Where's your mama?”
“She gone to Lake Charles with Miss Lutherine, shoppin,” I replied. Miss
Lutherine was our nosy neighbor.
Gramma sat down and put the box on the front room table. Ruth and I
looked and waited...
As it turns out, the box holds a very special gift that will change
their lives forever.
“A timeless universal tale...” Kirkus Reviews
Ages 9+ G.P. Putnam's Sons 2002
Coretta Scott King Honor 2003
Pen Center USA Finalist 2003
Judy Lopez Memorial Award 2003
FOCAL Award 2005