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Uncle Jed's Barbershop
(January 1998)
Granddaddy's Gift
(February 1997)
 

Home:  >Browse Listings   >Authors   >Mitchell, Margaree King
Margaree King Mitchell
Margaree King Mitchell

Margaree King Mitchell

Margaree King Mitchell has received several accolades for writing, including being named a finalist by the Writers Guild of America in a fellowship program for her script "Corporate Lies," but her true literary calling may be for children's literature, which began as a result of a visit to her son's school.

She was born July 23, 1953, in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She received a B.S. at Brandeis University in 1975, and in 1982 she married Kevin Lee Mitchell. From 1987 to 1990 she served as the director of the drama department at Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis. She has also served as officers on several school districts' parent-teacher organizations.

Her dramatic writings include "Once Upon a Dream," which was presented in an Arkansas Screen Writers Association workshop in 1992; "Corporate Lies," for which she was named a finalist in the East Foundation Fellowship Program for the Writers Guild of America; the television script "School's Out" in 1994; and the play The Hi-Rise, for which she was a finalist in the Theatre Memphis New Play Competition in 1991.

It was not until 1993 that she would publish her first book, however. A visit to her son's first grade class as a volunteer left her with the impression that many of the children faced school without any support from home and lacked self-esteem. Many of them had no concept of why they were there and had never seen a book. "I thought if I could somehow write a book that would inspire children to achieve their dreams, then maybe children would be motivated to stay in school and look to the future for a better life for themselves."

The resulting Uncle Jed's Barbershop is a children's book focusing on a truly Mississippi tale as told by eight-year-old narrator Sarah Jean. The story details her relationship with her barber and uncle, Jed, who travels the rural Mississippi countryside performing his trade in the early 1920s. Although Jed often receives payment in the form of chickens, his dream is to save roughly three thousand dollars to open his own barbershop. But Sarah Jean becomes ill, and Jed is the only family member with enough cash to pay for her treatments. Fortunately, Sarah Jean recovers, but Jed's dream of owning his own barbershop does not fare as well. Uncle Jed continues working towards his dream, and eventually perseveres.

Although Uncle Jed's Barbershop has been well-received critically, it seems the most important critic is the author herself. Mitchell has been rewarded by children's testimonials on how her story has bolstered their confidence, inspired them to attempt their own dreams and educated them on the cultural background of struggles for civil rights .

Mitchell's more recent book is Granddaddy's Gift and she is currently researching the Buffalo Soldiers for her next project.

RC
Related Links & Info


Wisconsin Educational Communications Board logo
Uncle Jed's Barbershop was featured on the instructional television program Reading Rainbow


Uncle Jed's Barbershop is the focus for these teaching Economics and Geography Lessons presented by the Montgomery County Public Schools web site in Rockville, Maryland.


Illustrator James Ransome
Information about illustrator James Ransome is available at Authors & Illustrators.

Publications

Children's Books:
  • Uncle Jed's Barbershop, illustrated by James Rasome. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
  • Grandaddy's Gift. Mahwah, New Jersey: Bridgewater Books, 1996.

Bibliography:

Articles and Book Reviews:
  • Austin American Statesman, January 16, 1994, p. F7.
  • Booklist, September 1, 1993, p. 69.
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 1993, p. 19.
  • Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1993, p. 938.
  • Publishers Weekly, August 2, 1993, pp. 78-79.
  • School Library Journal, October, 1993, pp. 105-106.

Internet Resources

Several book reviews of Uncle Jed's Barberhop (by children readers) are available on the web:


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