The Color of Bones by Tracy Edward Wymer

First I want to tell you that I have a guest review posted over at Sue Morris’ Kid Lit Reviews (I reviewed Eileen Spinelli’s “The Dancing Pancake”)! Please check it out by clicking HERE!

The Color of Bones

By Tracy Edward Wymer

172 pages – ages 9-12

Published May 8th 2012 by First Pitch

The Line appeared one day, long ago. It separated the town of Hillside, creating the Northsiders (the Lights) and the Southsiders (the Darks). Anyone who crossed the Line or tried to cross the Line would die instantly or soon after trying it. Derby lived on the Northside all his life. His father was scarred by the Line once because he got too close to it. Derby was walking home one day with his friend and they saw a pile of bones on the line. It was a pyramid of human bones with a skull on the top. No one knew how the bones got there or who they used to be.

One day when Derby was throwing rocks for fun, he saw a Southside girl throwing rocks too. Even though Derby has always been told not to talk to Southsiders, the kids become friends over time. Derby’s father, the Mayor of Hillside, decides the town should build a high wall so no Northsiders can even get close to the line. Derby finds that he REALLY likes the Southside girl and can’t imagine not being able to see or talk to her (even if it’s over the Line) and if the wall is built, he’ll never be able to see her again. Derby decides it’s time to cross the Line.

This book was entertaining and a pretty quick read for me. I think the plot of the book uses the Line to teach about racism, segregation and tyranny. I think it is a really interesting plot idea. Derby was a great character and I think I “knew” him pretty well. There was a bunch of things I wished I understood better (or maybe it could have been explained better) like why didn’t the people in the town just move or where did the Line come from and what exactly it was (an alien? created by evil thoughts?). Why couldn’t people just walk under the Line when it went in the air? I think the book would be even better if some parts of it were explained a little better. The idea of the Line was cool in a monster kind of way. The Line divided everything, it even separated the school right down the middle! It was kind of cool to imagine it. I think the book may be a good one for teachers to use to talk to kids about racism.

Three out of five bookworms for an awesome story idea that I wish was explained a little better.

Categories: Age 9+

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12 replies

  1. I love the idea of this book – it sounds like it could be very interesting! Too bad you didn’t feel it was executed as well as it might have been. It’s always kind of a let-down when a story that sounds great turns out not to be as good as you hoped – something I struggle with in my own writing every day! 🙂

  2. Very intriguing idea!

  3. Sounds a bit like a tame version of the Northern Ireland troubles. They were very segregated too.

  4. It’s great that you can pick up on and explain what it is about the story that doesn’t sit well with you, and offer some advice on how you feel it could have been made better. Great review – and I like that title!

  5. I am glad that you are able to question what was missing on the book for you as well as praise its strengths. It sounds like a great book to educate people about segregation and perhaps the myth of it.

  6. Hi Erik, I’m glad that you shared the parts that diddn’t work for you and those which did. BTW, I love Eileen Spinelli’s Dancing Pancakes. It’s the novel-in-verse, if I am not mistaken, right?

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