Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday's Special Is...Priscella and the Hollyhocks!

Priscella and the Hollyhocks by Anne Broyles

Priscilla is only four years old when her mother is sold to another master. All Priscilla has to remember her mother by are the hollyhocks she planted by the cow pond. At age ten, Priscilla is sold to a Cherokee family and continues her life as a slave. She keeps hope for a better life alive by planting hollyhocks wherever she goes. At last, her forced march along the Trail of Tears brings a chance encounter that leads to her freedom.

Based on a true story. For elementary schoool age children.
What others are saying:
"Priscilla and the Hollyhocks tells a story too often ignored or overlooked - a story of how the west was not won but captured. Reading about Priscilla's remarkable life makes all our hearts a bit warmer while filling our heads with a much-needed piece of American history."

Nikki Giovanni, poet
"When Priscilla's mother is sold to a new owner and the two are separated, the young slave girl finds solace in her mother's hollyhock patch. As she grows older, the kind words of a white businessman, Basil Silkwood, instill in Priscilla a desire to attend school, but she is soon sold to a Cherokee family, and her life of servitude continues. As her Native American owners embark on the grueling 20 mile journey west, known as the 1838 "Trail of Tears," she again meets the compassionate Silkwood, who purchases her freedom. Alter's appealing acrylic illustrations, rendered in single- and double- page spreads and framed close-ups, elevate the emotion of the story and echo the flattened perspective and thick outlines of folk art.

Based on real events, Broyles' poetic and colloquial narrative, voiced by a grown Priscilla, ends with the girl sowing the seeds of her mother's hollyhocks near her new home with the Silkwoods and an author's note detailing the historical basis of the story."

Buy from Amazon


When I was young and still wore slavery’s yoke,
I was saved by hollyhocks, and a white man’s kindness.

Freedom filled my dreams, but I was born a slave’s child.

“She’ll fetch a pretty penny,” Master said as he loaded Ma up in a wagon like a steer led to slaughter. Ma turned her anguished face to me, raised one hand in farewell.

I lacked strength to wave back, tho’ I ’spect my eyes mirrored her sorrow.

I pined after Ma.

Old Sylvia recollected me t’was Ma planted hollyhocks along the white picket fence by the cow pond.

“Your ma made hollyhock dolls like this, Priscilla,” Old Sylvia said. She took the beauteous pink flower in her gnarled brown hands, pushed and pulled it into shape, set it sail on the cow pond. I watched my flower dolly float and felt my mother’s smile.

Six years I played like any child. The cow pond was my home, the cows my family. I could turn a hollyhock blossom into a pretty lady in no time flat. Then I was put to the work for which Master said I had been born.

“Work hard and keep still,” Old Sylvia told me. She put a dust rag in my hands.

My first days in the Big House, I felt the weight of Master’s rules. I played invisible, silent as the walls, and hoped no one would pay me no mind. I learnt not to jump when Master hollered, but my insides was aquiverin’. Late at night, as I lay on a quilt in the attic, alone, I ’membered the sound of other slaves’ screams as Master beat them.

My poundin’ heart echoed the blows Master struck against black bodies.

Sundays I fled to the hollyhocks. I watched my dollies float, dance, cross the pond.

My smile escaped at the joy of it.

One mornin’ when I served First Master his porridge, his hand stung my cheek.

“Tarnation, you’re slow, gal!” He jumped up, knocked over the chair, stormed out with a slammed door curse. I clutched the unspilled bowl in my warm, tremblin’ hands, took it back to the kitchen.

“Might as well eat,” Cook said, and added a dollop of sugar to the porridge.

I grinned, picked up a spoon.


Welcome, everyone! Please answer the following question for a chance to win a free copy of PRISCELLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS, or drop by and chat with Anne!
...the cows my family. If Anne could name the cows in her family, what would they be called? Give at least two names.


Chris Eldin said...

Good Morning everyone!!

I seem to be posting these earlier and earlier...

Fridays are a bit slower, so I'm hoping to catch you early risers.

Let's hear some cow names!!!

Anne Broyles said...

I'll be around off and on all day, so I await with bated breath your cow names. I've never owned a cow, but if if you suggest some good names, I might just have to put a fence out back for my new pets.

Kathi said...

Just sitting down with a cuppa and tuning in to my fellow writers'events! Loved PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS - This is a great book for schools and curriculums. Hmm as for cow names, how about
"MOOOOve Over - You're HOGGING the sheets" or hmm . . . Writer's mind not working yet. I'll get back to you after my second cup.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Anne,
Good Morning!

LOL @ Kathi's names...

Anne Broyles said...

Good morning, Chris! On a cold winter's day like today I think of how Priscilla had to walk almost five hundred miles during the worst winter of the 19th century. I'm glad I'm snug and warm in my office, enjoying the white landscape from a distance.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think the cows would be named:

Royal Queen,

Anne Broyles said...

I like those names. Very descriptive. We'll just have to see if others can come up with something equally creative!

beth said...

Good Morning. Checking in from California where I won't say anything about the weather. Now without the benefit of caffeine this morning, I would say that names such as, "Marge", "Betty", and/or "Lucy"--then you could collectively call them "The Girls". Or you could go more exotic and name one "Leche Dulce" which could be hard to scream over and over when she wandered out of the fence.
Great book Anne,

laughingwolf said...

welcome anne, excerpt brought tears... then a smile :)

pri would name her cows: shame, sorrow, pride... and moonglow

Anne Broyles said...

I may have to go outside and yell some of these names into the wind that is biting cold out there. (Thanks, Beth, for not mentioning the weather--very kind of you). Would Leche Dulce, Sweetgrass or Moonglow come if I called? (Even if they could hear me over the wind, I guess that is a question for the cow's personality). Some great names suggested, everyone!

Anne Broyles said...

I'll be gone fro a couple of hours, but I hope to see more cow names posted when I return!

Dorothy said...

This historical fiction writer, interested in slavery and early Indians of Carolina, would like to read your book, Anne. I love Priscilla's voice.

I think the lonesome girl might have named the gentle cows after things she felt good about,like SUNSHINE, PATIENCE & HOLLY.

Chris Eldin said...

Wel, so far so good. Nobody's named their cow Chris.

Very creative thoughts out there!!!

Merry Monteleone said...

What to name cows?

Steak. Burger. And the baby would be Petite Fillet.

Sorry, I'm terrible.

I did love the voice, Ann, it sounds like an excellent book. Best of luck.

Anne Broyles said...

Steak? Burger? Petit Fillet? Well, that certainly takes us in a different direction! And Dorothy, I like how you have at least part of Priscilla pegged: lonely.

Anonymous said...

Well, knowing Anne is a vegetarian, I'm more inclined to name them Tofu, Thai Chai, and Farmer's Market.

As I was reading "Chains" the other day, when she got to the part where the main character planted her mother's seeds, I kept thinking of Priscilla. But they never grew into Hollyhocks and multiplied over generations. That reminds me to take out the seed catalogs and get me some hollyhocks for Spring...
Enjoy the day, Anne, and the cows.

Anne Broyles said...

Cows are one of my favorite creatures because of their beautiful eyes and long eyelashes. I'm thinking of cows more today than most days--perhaps I'll be dreaming of them tonight, too!

Diesel said...

"Holly Cow" seems too obvious. Maybe "Cow A. Bunga?"

Diesel said...

My brother-in-law used to have a cow named "Steaks."

Used to.

Anne Broyles said...

Poor Steaks! Nice humor on that, Diesel.

I think Priscilla must have had a sense of humor to help her get through some hard days as a slave. Those who knew her as an old woman in IL remembered her as being kind, gentle, wearing a sunbonnet and enjoying her flock of chickens.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL! Keep the guesses rolling in!!

Linda Austin said...

Mookie, Milky and Mocha, assuming they are dairy cows. Or Molly, Dolly and Polly. My two girls and I love cows. I did like Dorothy's names, too.

This story sounds so bittersweet, like "Most Loved In All The World," which I just recommended as a kid-read for Black History Month in my blogpost. I'll have to add this one, too.

Anne Broyles said...

Thanks for both your suggestions. I'll add them to the hopper.
I think any story about slavery is at best bittersweet. I'm glad that since Priscilla is based on a true story, I could include happiness for her at the end. The fact that her tombstone doesn't have a last name is a sad reminder about the realities of her life.

Marcia said...

I'm late to the party, but wanted to be sure to send a shout out for one of my favorite picture books! Priscilla and the Hollyhocks is such a wonderful story and so beautifully illustrated! Having oreo cows nearby, I'm thinking Cookie might be a good name. Or maybe Cookies and her sister could be Milk. Hollyhock would be a pretty name, too.

Anne Broyles said...

Cookies and milk--who let out the secret that cookies and milk are two of my favorite things, food or otherwise, in the world?
Thanks, Marcia, for your comments about Priscilla. Much appreciated!

Chris Eldin said...

Well, it's 9:00, and time to close the contest, but please feel free to continue chatting if you like!!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by!!! Seems we all have an inner bovine. ehehhehe!

Anne will choose a winner at any time now, and the winner should contact her through her website.

Many thanks to Anne for spending time with us!!!! I haven't read a picture book to my children in a long time, but I'll definitely look this one up!!

Thanks, All!!!

Anne Broyles said...

I loved all the cows' names--thanks so much for joining in today. I had to take some time to think this decision through.If I had cows that I loved like Priscilla felt her cows were family to her, I think I'd name them after things Priscilla herself would have known and loved. So Dorothy wins a copy of the book for Sunshine, Patience and Holly--nice, old-fashioned cow names.

laughingwolf said...

grats dorothy... and thx anne :D

Chris Eldin said...

Congrats DOrothy!! Your bookshelves are going to look much nicer!!!

Thanks again to everyone!

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Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow. Sorry I missed this one. Sounds great!

Karin said...

I missed the scheduled book roast, but thought I'd just pop in and say that if I were still teaching 3rd grade, Priscilla would make a great book to incorporate into the social studies curriculum since one of the 3rd grade social studies themes in California is Native Americans. The use of language would make a good discussion, too.

Ummm...Maybe you could name your cow Spot, like Laura Ingalls Wilder's mom did? I have no idea...