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The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia : a novel
Stefaniak, Mary Helen.
Adult Fiction STEFANI

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Stefaniak (The Turk and My Mother) delivers a deeply engaging story from the heart of 1930s-era Threestep, Ga., that manages to include stop offs in 1775 Baghdad and 1864 Savannah along the way. Loosely following the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights, which spunky Miss Spivey uses as the core curriculum in her one-room Threestep schoolhouse, the novel is full of intrigue, with babies switched at birth, the Ku Klux Klan, camels fluent in Arabic, and wish-granting genies. Told primarily from the point-of-view of 11-year-old Gladys, the tale begins with the arrival of Miss Spivey, the new teacher in town. Fascinated by the Middle East, she transforms the town into Baghdad, culminating in a bazaar that attracts Georgians from across the state. But the young teacher's progressive spirit proves threatening to some, and her vision falls prey to a tragic chain of events, giving the novel a much-needed boost. In the tradition of Scheherazade, stories are told within stories, by many tellers, creating a nesting doll of events for the young Gladys to get to the bottom of. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In 1938, a new teacher came to the one-room schoolhouse in Threestep, GA, courtesy of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The story of Miss Grace Spivey, who was educated in France and at Barnard College and traveled in Africa and the Near East, is told by thoroughly entranced 11-year-old Gladys Cailiff. Miss Spivey uses Sir Richard F. Burton's ten-volume The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night as her primary textbook. After a successful Halloween event, held a day early so as not to conflict with the activities of the "Ku Klucks," Miss Spivey even manages a full-fledged Baghdad Bazaar, complete with camels. If that's not enough, she is seen spending her free time educating the local black children, including mechanically gifted Theo Boykin, who creates the special effects for the bazaar. Gladys's young voice is perfect for showing how folks thrive and struggle when such a force enters the mainstream, as she herself questions where the lines are drawn and how easily they can be shifted. VERDICT Though set a generation later and in a different sociological stratum, this new work by Stefaniak (The Turk and My Mother) should appeal to fans of Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Highly recommended.-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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