Miz Berlin Walks

written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

An old neighbor lady takes a nightly walk around the block and when Mary Louise follows she discovers Miz Berlin is a repository of wonderful stories.

The narrator, a young African-American girl, and Miz Berlin, an elderly white woman, develop a friendship in a small Virginia town. Miz Berlin, "talking or singing or in quiet contemplation" walks the town, and although Mary Louise can only accompany her to the end of the block, she finds the woman's stories of catching crawdads on the day the sky rained feathers, living through a hurricane, or being born in a dirt-floor cabin captivating and comes to know the woman in a wonderful way.

The rich oil-wash paintings portray the emotions of the characters and their changing relationship in a warm and gentle way. I am especially fond of the full page picture of Mary Louise gazing down on a chubby little baby which accompanies the text: "Miz Berlin told me the story of her coming into the world."

Miz Berlin's death is handled in a very low-key way and seems a natural part of living; Mary Louise seems to understand that now she will become the storyteller.