Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir is an unusual autobiography that combines the childhood memories of several members of one family into a single account, thus creating a collective portrait of an African-American family. Authors Lessie Jones Little and daughter Eloise Greenfield have compiled stories about the youthful experiences of Martha Ann Barnes (Little’s grandmother and Greenfield’s great-grandmother) and of Patti Jones (Little’s mother and Greenfield’s grandmother). Then, the authors share short summaries of their own childhood tales with the young reader. Childtimes is actually three books in one, as the childhood memoirs are divided into parts 1, 2, and 3. These sections, which replace the usual format of chapters, each offer a complete story of one generation.

At the beginning of the book, the authors include a family tree; there are no dates listed, and at first it is difficult for the reader to determine the time frame. Then, part 1 begins with a photograph of the first main subject, Patti Jones. Before Jones’s stories are told, however, Little and Greenfield offer a fifteen-page presentation of some of the memories of Martha Ann Barnes, who was born at a time when slavery existed in the United States. The rest of the section relates the childhood memories of Barnes’s daughter, Jones, who was born on December 15, 1884, as these stories were told to her own daughter and granddaughter. The entire book is...

(The entire section is 420 words.)