Publisher's Note:  

Young Gabe's is a story of heartache and jubilation. He's a child slave freed after the Civil War. He sets off to reunite himself with his mother who was sold before the war's end. "Come morning, the folks take to the road again, singing songs, telling stories, and dream-talking of the lives they're gonna live in freedom. And I follow, keeping my eyes open for my mama. Days pass into weeks, and one gray evening as Mr. Dark laid down his coat, I see a woman with a yellow scarf 'round her neck as bright as a star. I run up to grab her hand, saying, Mama?" Gabe's odyssey in search of his mother has an epic American quality, and Keith Shepherd's illustrations—influenced deeply by the narrative work of Thomas Hart Benton—fervently portray the struggle in Gabe's heroic quest.

Selected as a 2012 Skipping Stones Honor Book and for the 2012 IRA Teacher's Choices Reading List.

A. LaFaye hopes Walking Home to Rosie Lee will honor all those African American families who struggled to reunite at the end of the Civil War and will pay her respects to those who banded together through the long struggle for freedom. She is the author of the Scott O'Dell Award-winning novel Worth and lives in Tennessee with her daughter Adia.

Keith Shepherd is a painter, graphic designer, and educator working out of Kansas City, MO. His painting "Sunday Best" is part of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's permanent collection. He describes his work as being "motivated by family, religion, history, and music."

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Cinco Puntos Press

Walking Home to Rosie Lee

by A. LaFaye

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Overall Review:  

Childen's historical fiction author, A. LaFaye debuts her first picture book, Walking Home to Rosie Lee. Creatively told from the perspective of young Gabe, who after being freed at the conclusion of the Civil War, is in search of his mother. Adding to the book's charm are the illustrations done by Keith D. Shepard, who depicts the narrative perfectly, engaging readers in a truly endearing journey.


LaFaye brings exposure to a subject that is rarely discussed, the reunification process of African Americans during the reconstruction period. Though this is a heavy subject, LaFaye's depiction is light enough for young readers to understand, but still thought-provoking and authentic to the era, not demeaning the matter in the slightest. It's no wonder why this book has received high praise:  2012 Skipping Stone Honor Book, 2012 IRA Teachers' Choice Selection, 2012 Bank Street School of Education Best Books of the Year Selection.


This is a book that should be read in homes and schools. Gabe is a relatable character and the story reads like he is talking to a friend. Creating a familiar relationship with the reader, it introduces them to the hardships of the time period, thus producing a perfect opportunity for children to be taught about the tough issues such as slavery, the Civil War, and inequality.


Although I recommended this as a book to be read to ages 9+ I believe this book could be read to children who are younger, or those children who are just starting on the adventure of independent reading.  If you are a more advanced reader (12+) that enjoys genre literature, you may try reading some of Author A. LaFaye's Juvenile historical fiction novels, or you may enjoy I Am David, by Anne Holm.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  None


Violence/Gore:  Character briefly tells how one of his family members now has a scar because of an incident involving violence.


Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:  

War, slavery, racial inequality, forced family separation.

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Reviewed By MaryLou
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