Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In writing Childtimes, Greenfield and Little hoped to share with young people the struggles and the happy times of three generations of African-American kinship. Through first-person accounts, they present an authentic portrait of childhood, as experienced by African Americans in the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries. The book is limited in scope, however, by the authors’ insistence on viewing these family experiences, as well as historical events, from a child’s point of view. Because no adult voice is present in the work, there is a lack of objectivity concerning the state of the African-American family during this time period. Consequently, young readers might want to balance this account with other African-American biographies or autobiographies.

Greenfield is a professional writer of fiction and nonfiction for children. Prior to Childtimes, she authored such biographies as Rosa Parks (1973), Paul Robeson (1975), and Mary McLeod Bethune (1977), revealing her preference for writing about famous African Americans. She also produced several works of fiction, including Sister (1974), She Come Bringing Me the Baby Girl (1974), and Africa Dream (1977). Greenfield cowrote another juvenile book with her mother that examined the life of an African-American child. That book, I Can Do It by Myself (1978), was named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the field of social studies by the National Council of Social Studies.