One Big Open Sky (Hardcover)

One Big Open Sky By Lesa Cline-Ransome Cover Image
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Three women narrate a perilous wagon journey westward that could set them free—or cost them everything they have—in this intergenerational verse novel that explores the history of the Black homesteader movement.

1879, Mississippi. Young dreamer Lettie may have her head in the stars, but her body is on a covered wagon heading westward. Her father, Thomas, promises that Nebraska will be everything the family needs: an opportunity to claim the independence they’ve strived for over generations on their very own plot of land.

But Thomas’ hopes—and mouth—are bigger than his ability to follow through. With few supplies and even less money, the only thing that feels certain is danger.

Right after the war ended/and we were free/we believed/all of us did/that couldn’t nothing hurt us/the way master had when we were slaves/Couldn’t no one tell us/how to live/how to die.

Lettie, her mother, Sylvia, and young teacher Philomena are free from slavery—but bound by poverty, access to opportunity, and patriarchal social structures. Will these women survive the hardships of their journey? And as Thomas’ desire for control overpowers his common sense, will they truly be free once they get there?

Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome’s striking verse masterfully portrays an underrepresented historical era. Tackling powerful themes of autonomy and Black self-emancipation, Cline-Ransome offers readers an intimate look into the lives of three women and an expansive portrait of generations striving for their promised freedom.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

About the Author

Lesa Cline-Ransome is the author of more than twenty books for young readers including the award-winning Finding Langston trilogy. Her work has received a plethora of honors, including dozens of starred reviews, NAACP Image Award nominations, a Coretta Scott King honor, the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a Christopher Award. Her work has been named to ALA Notable Books and Bank Street Best Children’s Book lists and she lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

Praise For…

"Lesa Cline-Ransome's historical novel in verse, 'One Big Open Sky,' is determined to fill in these archival silences. . . a mix of richly textured description and vibrant dialogue. . . meticulous research. . . ."—The New York Times

★ "Cline-Ransome once again demonstrates her incredible literary skills. . . a deeply moving story that centers a distinctive part of the African American story."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "Cline-Ransome’s spare free-verse narrative centers three skillfully developed female voices. . . This is a captivating story about African American homesteaders and their claims to land promised them after the Civil War."The Horn Book, Starred Review
"This emotional look into an untold part of the Westward Expansion dives deep into Black self-emancipation and the strength of Black women."—School Library Journal

"The verses read smoothly and, although completely lacking in punctuation, will be accessible to young readers."—Booklist

"[A] gripping historical verse novel. . . The meticulously layered intersections of each protagonist’s experience deftly captures the lengths to which Black people—particularly women—would go in pursuit of freedom in the post-Reconstruction era."Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780823450169
ISBN-10: 0823450163
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English