Sharon reviews CHILDREN OF THE FIRE by Harriette Robinet, Atheneum Books, 1991. 134 pages
Hallelujah was born on Easter morning, in Mississippi, near the end of the Civil War. Following the war, Hallelujah, her mother and her sister walked to Chicago to live. That was 6 years ago. Hallelujah’s mother died soon after they reached freedom. Hallelujah always felt that people looked down on her for being an orphan who had been born a slave. Because of that, she often acted out, before anyone can say anything that might hurt her.
The heat shimmered in Chicago in October 1871. It had been a dry, hot summer with numerous fires. Tonight, Hallelujah tricked her adopted parents into letting her attend the next fire. When the fire bells started ringing, Hallelujah was excited to begin an adventure. Before the night was through, though, the adventure had become overwhelming. The fire jumped the river, burned a huge swath of the city, leaving over 100,000 people without homes or belongings.
Along the way, Hallelujah made a new friend, Elizabeth, whose rich family lost everything. She helped save the congregants of a church that had caught fire by burning hay carried on the fierce, hot wind. Hallelujah watched as the Chicago courthouse, (where President Lincoln had lain in state after following his assassination) was destroyed,. The limestone melted with the heat of the flames. She also aided a banker who asked her to carry and keep safe a heavy carpet bag by wading into Lake Michigan.
Most of all, Hallelujah learned her own worth, and even though, everybody is different still everyone is equally special.