Nettie Parker's Backyard by C.V. Smith

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Nettie Parker’s Backyard is a WWII historical-fiction novel for 4th-8th graders.  The book tackles important lessons against bullying and intolerance toward race, religion, and the physically challenged.  The title character has experienced prejudice as an African-American growing up in the 1920’s American South.  Later, while studying nursing in London, a blitzkrieg bombing forces Nettie to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.  But Nettie Parker is strong and never gives up.  Luckily, the supernatural signs she receives always give her hope as they lead her in the right direction toward helping others. The values of dedication, commitment, and love come across clearly to the reader as she comes to care for eight Jewish refugee children.  To keep the audience captivated, the story’s values and ethics are woven into the plot with ribbons of mystery and the supernatural.  When statues suddenly begin appearing in Nettie’s backyard, she is driven to find the reason why, and in the process discovers that love truly is the greatest force of all in a surprise twist ending.


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Did you know...
that the sweetgrass baskets Nettie made with her mother as a child are an ancient African craft?  Basket weaving was thought of as a gift from God, and the technique was handed down from one generation to the next.  Taught to weave from childhood, it took patience and creativity; each piece is unique since there are no set patterns.  It can take hours to make one small basket.  Pine needles and palmetto are also used for contrast in designs.  Hundreds of years ago, sweetgrass baskets were used in the planting and harvesting of crops.
Quotes from the book...
"…suddenly and from out of nowhere I heard and saw violin music playing.  When it ended the melody repeated itself twice more,  and then nothing.  The music had stopped as mysteriously as it had begun.  It hadn’t come from any one place in particular but from everywhere all at once.  I could actually hear and see the musical notes magically encircling me.  They were shiny…glittering…dancing all around me!  I stayed very still until I was sure the haunting melody had finished."   Nettie's first sign, age 6.
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