Scholastic Booktalk

Tall T knows he must become a man, even if he is only twelve years old. His father has deserted the family, and Tall T is the one his mother depends on. It takes a man to climb the tall cliff the villagers call the Jacob Ladder – is T man enough to do it?

Jacob’s ladder was the shortcut. The banana men used the steps cut into the tall cliff and the thick green vines that covered them to get from the village to the docks, where they loaded and rowed huge boatfuls of green bananas out to the waiting ships. For Tall T, the cliff wasn’t just a shortcut, it was a symbol. If he was strong enough to climb it, he’d prove that he was enough of a man to take care of his family. His father, Brother John, in spite of being one of the most popular and respected men in the village, had deserted them to live with someone else. Tall T knew it was up to him to take up the slack. He wasn’t the oldest, but he was the one his mother depended on. It’s not easy to support a family of seven when you’re only twelve, but Tall T was determined to do it.

Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make the biggest changes. A bowl of soup took Tall T’s father away. A coconut showed him how to make sure his family survived without that father.

This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart