Running and Dancing

Running and Dancing

by Carol Fenner

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Two middle-class African American girls grow into teenagers at the turn of the 20th century (1916-1917). The times are much different than they are today. The older girl's sister fled the United States to find fame and fortune in another country (like Josephine Baker). She left behind a daughter, and the two girls (one is the other’s niece) each experience different coming of age adventures, according to their temperaments. Bertine, eldest of the pair, is a runner, like her sister. But Alma is a different sort of girl – one who enjoys the dance of life right where she is.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013726093
Publisher: Red Phoenix Books
Publication date: 01/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 486
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Carol Fenner (now deceased) was the recipient of the Newbery Honor Award for Yolanda’s Genius [Simon & Schuster, 1995], the ALA Notable Book Honor for Randall’s Wall [Macmillan, 1991] and another ALA Notable Book Honor for the posthumously released Snowed In with Grandmother Silk (Dial Books, 2003). In 1970, The Skates of Uncle Richard was a runner up for the Coretta Scott King Award, a prize that is usually given to African Americans.

Running and Dancing was a life-time work for Ms. Fenner, and the love of her writing career. She researched the story for 20 years. Quite a few of the characters are based upon descendants of the Coffey family (her in-laws, for whom she was 'Aunt Carol'). In particular, the story of Bertine and the Circus is based upon a argument overheard by Aunt Carol in the kitchen of cousin Thelma’s house in New Orleans about whether their son should be allowed to go to the circus and experience all the racism that went with it, or should he be sheltered away from all of that to protect his self-esteem. Grama is very much the vision of grandmother Coffey. Aunt Carol explained the meaning of Running and Dancing to members of the family, and we have fond memories of Aunt Carol singing the mugwort song as we rode horseback on blustery fall days through the Kellogg forest in western Michigan, laughingly exhorting ‘Selene, Selene! Where have you been! (with British pronunciation).

Red Phoenix Books and the Coffey (Williams) family is pleased to bring this manuscript to light. We dedicate it to all her readers – those who will recognize her unique and charming author’s voice. Aunt Carol didn’t quite finish it before she died. Red Phoenix Books cleaned up the typos, and made some small editorial changes that any author would make to the final version of their manuscript.

The original ms for this work, along with many of Carol Fenner’s other original manuscripts can be viewed at the University of Minnesota’s Kerlan Collection (part of the Children's Literature Research Project)

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Running and Dancing 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderfulbook! A pleasure and a classic. Running andDancing by Carol Fenner. Michigan 1916 to1917. Bertine’s grandfather was a slavewho ran away from his owners in 1887. She is a very smart tomboy. Doesn’t like dresses. Wants to play with boys. Twelve years old andshe figures out how to drive a Model T. She’s willing to dive off the bridgeinto the river. She out-runs theboys. Bertine’s niece,Alma, who is two years younger, is beautiful. She keeps her clothes clean. She does what the adults in her life ask ofher. So Alma’s life should be easy. Right? Well it isn’t. Alma has to fight the bullies. And thoughshe’s smart and always does her school work, she has a teacher that doesn’tappreciate her. And she wonders why hermother left and what happened to her father. I loved thisbook. It got better and better as I readit. And when I finished, even though theending was great and satisfactory, I wanted to keep reading. I want to know what is going to happen to Almaand Bertine when they grow up. What a pleasure!
MBLevine More than 1 year ago
I love this book! The late Carol Fenner, an award-winning author of several juvenile fiction books, penned the adventurous, funny, and inspiring tale, Running and Dancing. This is a wonderful tale of two African American girls growing up in Michigan during the early 1900s. Bertine Coffey and her niece, Alma, are the stars of this story. They represent girl power at its finest. Fenner’s portrayal of beautiful, talented, and intelligent black girls being raised by Bertine’s widowed mother is flawless. The reader is treated to a front row view of the girls’ lives as they face growing pains, loss of a parent, and ever present racism. As the story opens, eleven-year-old Bertine and nine-year-old Alma, take a joy ride in the car of their sister-aunt’s future husband. The action rises quickly as Bertine figures out how to navigate the 1915 Model T with Alma’s graceful insight. Fenner’s words paint a vivid picture of the two young girls whirling through the countryside as the car barrels towards town. The adventure in the Model T introduces the reader to the girls’ strengths and highlights their differences. Child-aunt Bertine is a tomboy who prefers playing with the neighborhood boys to wearing dresses and ribbons. Alma, whose mother left the Coffey home after giving birth to her daughter, is Miss Prim and Proper. She is inquisitive and well-spoken. Alma stays cleaner than any nine-year-old I’ve ever encountered in fiction or real life. The girls bicker constantly. They get on each other’s nerves during some part of every day; but when it counts the most Bertine and Alma support each other like sisters. The author includes many challenges that some modern school-aged children may also face. Alma is abandoned by her mother. Bertine continues to miss her deceased father. Bullying becomes a problem for Alma until she follows her grandmother’s advice and stands up to her oppressors. Miss Bertine finds it almost impossible to cope with her maturing body, and desperately wishes that all of her developing parts would stop jiggling. Readers will plead for Alma’s safety when her mother returns; they will cheer out loud for Bertine during the most important event of her young life. And they will come to know what true joy and contentment looks like within the security of a loving family. Running and Dancing is the perfect story for school-aged girls; it teaches them to appreciate their power. Boys will also learn that they have a lot in common with girls. All readers will benefit from the history lessons about slavery and racism that Fenner incorporates into the book. This is a beautifully written story; readers will fall in love with these girls. Running and Dancing is a book that will have a positive impact on readers of all ages. I highly recommend it. Melissa Brown Levine for Independent Professional Book Reviewers
librarian_by_profession More than 1 year ago
This early twentienth century novel recalls turn-of-the century southern MIchigan through the eyes of African-American family members, 11 year old Bertine and her younger niece, Alma Coffey. The story begins with a folksy, hilarious account of Bertine illegally driving a Model T. It goes on to explore experiences of segregation and rejection in their lives as well as joyous family relationships, and the prideful recount of a renowned family member who escaped from slavery via the underground railroad. A wonderful story about blackberry picking is reminiscent of "Blueberries for Sal." The name-calling, including of a homeless man, and issues of bullying, are similar to contemporary issues. Believable, poignant, heartwarming. Age 10+.