Cover image for Quinnie Blue
Quinnie Blue
Johnson, Dinah.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 29 cm
Hattie wonders about the activities of her grandmother Quinnie Blue when she was little.
Reading Level:
AD 710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 54635.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 1 Quiz: 27309 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A tender and lyrical portrayal of the special relationship between a young African-American girl and her grandmother, by an acclaimed author and an award-winning illustrator.

"Quinnie Blue,
Did your mama teach you about the family tree?"

Through a series of thoughtful questions and vivid reflections, a young girl imagines what childhood was like for her grandmother-- Hattie Lottie Annie Quinnie Blue--the woman she is named after.

In this exceptional picture book, Dinah Johnson's expressive language joyously invokes the spirit of an African-American community. James Ransome's beautiful paintings depict in turn the past and present generations of a family, and a special relationship that connects the two. Quinnie Blue is a wonderful celebration of family roots and the passing on of heritage.

Author Notes

Dinah Johnson is the author of Sunday Week , illustrated by Tyrone Geter, and All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts , which was named a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. A professor of English and children's literature at the University of South Carolina, Ms. Johnson lives with her daughter in Columbia, South Carolina.

James Ransome is the acclaimed illustrator of more than twenty books for children, including The Creation , for which he received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. He lives with his family in upstate New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-7. The young narrator is named for her grandmother, Quinnie Blue, and in this evocative story, the girl goes back in time and tries to imagine what life was like for her grandmother growing up. Johnson's lilting text is practically music: "Hattie Lottie Annie Quinnie Blue / that's the rhythm that the rain made / dancing on top of your tin roof / during Carolina showers." Ransome's handsome paintings set against a background of weathered wood are every bit as lyrical as the text, showing both Quinnie Blues in various poses, with hair braided and walking shoeless through the grass. Literal-minded children may have some problems figuring out just which little girl is being depicted in the art, but it almost doesn't matter, as past and present generations come together. The love and laughter of this African American family spill out of the pages. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Johnson's (Sunday Week) lyrical tale tenderly sketches an African-American girl's relationship with her grandmother. Addressing the older woman, the child asks rhetorical questions that show she is well-versed in stories of her grandmother's girlhood: "Quinnie Blue, were you brave enough to walk right up the church aisle with everyone staring at you, saying `Tell it girl' and `Hallelujah?'" As the text progresses, the girl starts to draw parallels between herself and Quinnie Blue, and then to retell Quinnie Blue's own stories: "Skipping down the sweet-grass path, I bet you sang out for your pony, Sassafras. You'd kiss her nose and on you'd go." Ransome's (The Creation) lifelike oil paintings, shifting between two time frames, reveal Quinnie Blue engaged in a variety of pastimes similar to those of her granddaughter. Also bridging the generations are snippets of art, ostensibly the creation of the narrator, which depict aspects of Quinnie Blue's life. This spot art, rendered in acrylics on wood and positioned against a grainy, woodlike background, almost pops from the page. Even more than the text, Ransome's closely focused portraits of girl and grandmother underscore the love shared by them and their close-knit family. Ages 4-7. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-In this lyrical picture book, a little girl is curious about her grandmother and namesake, and spins a series of questions about the woman's young years. Did she go barefoot? Did her mama teach her about the family tree? Ransome's rich oil-on-canvas and acrylic-on-wood paintings provide the answers. The past is depicted in a pale blue wood-grain background, while the present has a lightly textured white background. Small, childlike pictures on blocks of wood face most full-page illustrations, reinforcing the theme of the child's relationship to the adult. For the past, readers see Quinnie Blue doing the things her granddaughter wonders about. The pictures of the present show the woman as a quiet presence, often in the background, as her exuberant grandchild has many of the same experiences she had so long ago. Ransome beautifully contrasts the present suburban life with the more rural past of the family while at the same time showing the continuity implied in the text. While this is a visually lovely book with positive images of the African-American characters, some readers may be disappointed by the lack of any real story. Also, some of the concepts, such as walking up the church aisle "with everyone staring at you, saying `Tell it girl' and `Hallelujah'" may need explanation. Since the pictures are so integral to an appreciation of the text, children need to peruse them at length and close-up. Thus, the book is best suited for one-on-one sharing with an adult.-Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.