Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Bright April is an account of a six-month period in the life of April Bright, a nine-year-old African American girl. Although the book takes place in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the setting is only a backdrop since the events could occur in almost any American locale in the 1940’s. The social realism of the novel is evident from page 1, when a white child looks at April and exclaims, “You’re brown!”

April is a typical nine-year-old who does the things that a girl of any color might do: interact with her family, attend a public school, participate in Brownie meetings, go to a social, and mingle with adults and peers—sometimes with unsatisfactory results. The events of the novel are easy to understand. The book does contain some vague references larger social events such as systemic discrimination, sit-ins, and sanitation strikes, but overall the plot is clear and to the point.

The story begins as April and her mother return on the bus from the dentist’s office. A young white passenger makes a comment about April’s color, and April experiences racial prejudice for the first time. April’s mother reminds her that all people are alike inside and that April is the beautiful color of coffee with cream. Subsequent themes include interactions and achievements within the Bright family, the pleasures of friendship, and the pain of discrimination when peers whisper about April, when Phyllis will not sit with her at a social outing...

(The entire section is 440 words.)