It's 1938 in Threestep, Georgia and 11-year-old Gladys Cailiff is mesmerized by the new teacher for the one-room school. Miss Spivey has traveled all over the world and is especially enthralled with the Middle East and with Baghdad. She shares Arabian stories about Aladdin and Scheherazade and more with her students and even works to plan an exotic Baghdad Bazaar.
However, the bazaar turns Threestep upside down and inside out! Gladys lives in the middle of racism, provincialism and generational hatreds, but until Miss Spivey's arrival, it all seemed normal.
The characters are a well-drawn mix: Force, a handsome young man whose heritage is questioned and is a special friend of Miss Spivey; May, Glady's pregnant sister who is a talented storteller; young Theo, an African American who is a creative genius; Uncle Mack, the camel driver (yes, camels come to Threestep) and, of course, Miss Spivey.
Miss Spivey's pre-desegregation and progressive beliefs and activities don't set well at the end of the 1930s in Gladys's rural community and county. Many lives are changed. Threestep, Georgia too.
If you are a "Secret Life of Bees" fan or have read "As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me" you would enjoy this one. An excellent book discussion pick.
Recommended by Ruth Ann Johnson