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Goin' Someplace Special Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews Review

Confronted with the indignities and humiliations of segregated Nashville in the 1950s, young 'Tricia Ann holds her head high and remembers that she is "somebody, a human being--no better, no worse than anybody else in this world." For the first time, 'Tricia Ann has been allowed to venture outside her community all by herself. Her grandmother has prepared her well, fortifying her "with enough love, respect, and pride to overcome any situation." 'Tricia Ann, though frustrated by the Jim Crow laws that forbid her, as an African American, to enter certain restaurants and hotels, or even to sit on park benches marked "For Whites Only," rises above her pain and makes her way to one of the only places in the city that welcomes her with open arms: the public library.

Drawing on her own Nashville childhood, Newbery Honor-winning author Patricia C. McKissack (The Dark- Thirty) brings the injustices of segregation to life in this bittersweet picture book. Illustrator Jerry Pinkney, four-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor Medalist, captures the spirit of the '50s with his lovely watercolors. McKissack and Pinkney previously collaborated on Mirandy and Brother Wind. (Ages 3 to 7) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

McKissack draws from her childhood in Nashville for this instructive picture book. "I don't know if I'm ready to turn you loose in the world," Mama Frances tells her granddaughter when she asks if she can go by herself to "Someplace Special" (the destination remains unidentified until the end of the story). 'Tricia Ann does obtain permission, and begins a bittersweet journey downtown, her pride battered by the indignities of Jim Crow laws. She's ejected from a hotel lobby and snubbed as she walks by a movie theater ("Colored people can't come in the front door," she hears a girl explaining to her brother. "They got to go 'round back and sit up in the Buzzard's Roost"). She almost gives up, but, buoyed by the encouragement of adult acquaintances ("Carry yo'self proud," one of her grandmother's friends tells her from the Colored section on the bus), she finally arrives at Someplace Special a place Mama Frances calls "a doorway to freedom" the public library. An afterword explains McKissack's connection to the tale, and by putting such a personal face on segregation she makes its injustices painfully real for her audience. Pinkney's (previously paired with McKissack for Mirandy and Brother Wind) luminescent watercolors evoke the '50s, from fashions to finned cars, and he captures every ounce of 'Tricia Ann's eagerness, humiliation and quiet triumph at the end. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416927352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416927358
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
'Tricia Ann is going to her favorite spot..."Someplace Special", and today she's going all by herself for the very first time. As she skips out the door, her grandma, Mama Frances, calls after her, "And no matter what, hold yo' head up and act like you b'long to somebody." Wise words 'Tricia Ann will need as she faces the indignities and humiliation of the Jim Crow laws during the 1950s. She has to ride in the back of the bus, behind the Colored Section sign. Her grandfather was a stonemason on the beautiful fountain in the park, yet she can't sit and enjoy watching it, because the park benches are for whites only. She can't eat in Monroe's Restaurant, or enter the Southland Hotel's lobby, "No colored people are allowed!" And if she wants to see a movie, 'Tricia Ann has to use the back door, and sit upstairs in the "Buzzard's Roost" But there is one place she can go, her "Someplace Special", and it has a message she loves to read, chiseled in the stone across the front of the building...Public Library: All Are Welcome..... Drawing from her own life as a young girl in Nashville, Tennessee, Patricia McKissack has written a quiet, poignant, yet very powerful story, detailing and explaining what life was like for African Americans, during the Jim Crow era. Her simple and evocative text is complemented by award winning illustrator, Jerry Pinkney's beautifully expressive, watercolor artwork, and together, they transport readers back to the hurtful and unfair world of the 1950s segregated south. An Author's Note at the end, completes and enriches the story, and can be a starting point for further lessons and/or discussions. Perfect for youngsters 5 and older, Goin' Someplace Special is a thoughtful and engaging story of both injustice, and the triumph of the human spirit.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I teach in a low socioeconomic neighborhood school and I struggle to find books for my African American 1st grade students that will help motivate them to aim high and value education. Usually books are too advanced and/or graphic in detail to interest or be appropriate for small children. Because elementary children do not really know of anything outside of current society, I think it is important that they see where we have come from. This book tastefully gives them a glimpse of black life in the past and the pride and determination that was necessary to rise above all that was wrong about those times. At the end of the story, "someplace special" is a pleasant surprise. It's a physical place that we can still go today, no matter what town you live in. This is a must read and must have for a multicultural or African American classroom library.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've had a touch and go relationship with Jerry Pinkney's books over the years. He's one of those artists that I respect but that I've never really felt an undying affection for. His books tend to speak to the African-American experience but while I've always thought his pictures were effective I never became greatly attached to his stories. Author Patricia C. McKissack, however, won my heart with the splendid and multi-layered "Christmas In the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters". When combined with Mrs. McKissack, Jerry Pinkney suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. With their talents melded, the world has seen some breath-taking picture books. "Goin' Someplace Special" is probably the best of these. A smart book that introduces children to the notion of racism and Jim Crow laws, McKissack and Pinkney have given us a truly worthy book for our consideration.

'Tricia Ann is all ah-flutter. Her mother is finally letting her go all the way to Someplace Special. The trip is hardly carefree, though. After getting on the bus, 'Tricia Ann is forced to sit in the colored section. Then she can't even sit on a park bench, the words, "Whites Only" staring her in the face. Her friend Jimmy Lee commiserates, pointing out that even though blacks can work at the nearby restaurant, they can't sit down there to have a BLT and a cup of coffee. But the worst comes when 'Tricia Lee accidentally gets swept into a grand hotel. In the midst of an autograph signing the girl is loudly condemned and shooed out because she is black. In tears she finds a friend in an elderly churchgoer and becomes determined to finish her trip. The reader finally learns at the end that Someplace Special is none other than the public library. A place where all people are welcome.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on June 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in a town some thirty miles east of Nashville and can very much relate to Tricia Ann and her desire to find that special place. As an African-American I recall the "Jim Crow" laws that forbade me from going to the downtown soda fountain, shopping in certain stores, and riding in the front of the bus.
But, like the story's protagonist, the library was a haven,a place where, within the pages of a book, I could be what I wanted to be, I could do what I wanted to do, and I could go where I wanted to go.
This is a powerful book that can be used as a marvelous teaching tool at school and at home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on December 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee in the 1950s was not easy for African-American children. Most public places--including hotels, restaurants, churches, movie theaters, parks--were open only to whites. On buses, only seats in the back rows were available to them, even if the front of the bus was empty.

But as the author explains in her endnote, the board of Nashville's public library in the late 1950s voted to fully integrate, and opened the main downtown branch fully to all. Like Andrew Carnegie, whose wealth helped to build it, her grandmother considered the library more exciting, interesting, informative than any place else. Her grandmother made it into a "doorway to freedom."

This is a fictionalized story of the author's youth--an afternoon on which the main character, Tricia Ann, took a bus from home to downtown and the public library. She encountered much hatred en route, but she also met some love. She gave up her seat to a friend of her mother when the rear section was full. Mrs. Granell called after her, "Carry yo'self proud."

Her friend Jimmy Lee instructed her, "Don't let those signs steal yo' happiness," and another gentleman at the Southland Hotel told her she resembled an angel from heaven. She also received encouragement from a kindly white gardener, Blooming Mary, to recall the lessons her deceased grandmother had taught her. Lots more happens here besides. In summation, a young woman is born.

"You are somebody, a human being," her grandmother had said. The author shows that arriving to a place is not always easy. But quitting is not the route to take.

Patricia McKissack's grandmother was right: Libraries give a special gift. Help your kids find out what and why with this book.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
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