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Tobe: A Critical Edition

New Views on a Children's Classic

Stella Gentry Sharpe

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Published: 09/2019
Pages: 184
Subject: History, Literary Criticism | University of North Carolina
Print ISBN: 9781469654164
eBook ISBN: 9781469654188


When UNC Press published Stella Gentry Sharpe's Tobe in 1939, it was hailed as one of the first children's books to offer a dignified portrayal of an African American child and his family. Today, the power of Tobe lies as much in the questions it raises: Whose story gets told? Who gets to tell it? How do stories shape how we see ourselves and each other?

This volume reproduces the original volume's text and images, places the book in the context of its time, and offers thought-provoking ways to read Tobe with fresh eyes. Benjamin Filene explores the book as a story told in words, as a world constructed through photographs, as a chapter in the history of juvenile literature, and (through interviews with the people photographed and their descendants) as a window into community memory. Encouraging close readings and second looks, Filene presents a project kit for exploring a historical text, yielding surprising insights. This new edition of a children's classic opens up questions of race, voice, and power in ways that encourage fruitful conversation and resist easy answers.