Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Don't Say Ain't

Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Don't Say Ain't

Article excerpt

SMALLS, IRENE (2003). Don't Say Ain't. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Watertown, Mass.: Talewinds. ISBN 1-57091-381-1.

In another segregation-era story, we meet Dana, a New Yorker who has just passed a test to be admitted to an advanced school. Racial segregation is not the issue, however; the separateness that pains Dana is linguistic. She speaks like her girlfriends Cindybelle and Ellamae, with whom she chants the "Don't say ain't" rhyme for double dutch, and like her godmother, who waves the school acceptance letter to neighbors saying "I'se got big news!" In school, Dana isn't accepted by the girls in their sweater sets who are impressed by tennis lessons rather than double dutch acumen, but Dana can't hide her gifts for math. Back home, Cindybelle and Ellamae turn their backs on Dana as they go off to their poorly equipped, regular school.

When Dana's teacher Mrs. Middleton, who has gently chided Dana for saying "ain't" in school, visits her home and learns that she and Dana's godmother have friends in common back in South Carolina, it seems like "the 'Honeychiles this' and 'Honeychiles that' would never stop. …

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