Happy Birthday, Addy!

Published in 1994; author Connie Porter; illustrators Melodye Rosales, Renee Graef, and Luanne Roberts


It's now March. Addy and her parents have moved from the room above Mrs. Ford's seamstress shop to a boarding house run by Mr. and Mrs. Golden. Mrs. Walker still works for Mrs. Ford, and Mr. Walker has a job delivering ice. This leaves Addy alone a lot of the time, so she's thrilled when Mr. Golden's mother moves into the boarding house and befriends Addy. M'dear, as the woman asks Addy to call her, is a fascinating woman. One of the first things they discuss is that Addy's birthday is around this time, but, having been born a slave, she doesn't know it. M'dear encourages Addy to pick a special day for it. The two quickly become close; Addy enjoying hearing M'dear's wisdom, and M'dear (who doesn't get out much due to age and blindness) enjoys the company.

About a week after they meet, M'dear runs out of a prescription and Addy offers to pick it up. She and her friend Sarah discover the nearby pharmacy is closed, so Addy decides they should take the streetcar to another one a little ways away. Sarah's nervous about that, because so many streetcars are whites only, and even the non-segregated ones--where the girls wouldn't allowed to ride inside--can be dangerous for black people. They make it safely to the pharmacy, but the clerk treats them very rudely. He reminds Addy of how she was treated on the plantation. And when they try to return, there's a fight between a streetcar conductor and a black man who's tired of waiting (because African-Americans are only allowed on the outside platform there's "no room" despite the inside being wide open) which starts to escalate, forcing the girls to walk. M'dear gets the story out of Addy and Sarah, and consoles them. Addy takes the words to heart, and encourages her father that someone will see that he's a skilled carpenter and hire him. Sure enough, Mr. Walker gets a job shortly after.

And shortly after that, Addy decides on the perfect day for her birthday: April ninth. What prompts her? With General Lee's surrender at Fort Appomattox, the Civil War is over. The Goldens and Addy's parents help her have an impromptu party, celebrating not only her birthday but the end of the war. Now their chances of reuniting with Sam and Esther are even better.

Looking Back

The historical section gives an interesting perspective into Meet Addy. When a slave woman gave birth (attended by other slave women who were experienced in childbirth), they were expected to get back to work very quickly. Older children or elderly slaves tended to the infants, although depending a woman's work she might be able to carrying a young baby with her in a sling. As they grew up, the children played with each other and often with the white plantation children. Around the age of eight, they were put to work, and by the time they were teenagers, they were considered adults and given the workload--and punishments--of an adult. Addy was nine in her first book, very recently pressed into service, and Sam would have just started "adulthood." Gives even more meaning to their (understandable, of course) resentment.


This book is dedicated to the author's parents.

Unlike the previous four characters, Addy's first three main books were published in a different year from her next three.

In the opening scene, Addy, Sarah, and her father talk about how hot it is, but then there's a picture of Addy and her father both wearing heavy coats. Also, how hot is it usually in Philadelphia in late March?

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