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Going North (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)) Hardcover – August 26, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-5–This autobiographical story follows an African-American family on their difficult move from Alabama to Nebraska in the 1960s. The journey presents special complications for the young narrator, her siblings, and her parents; they can only buy fuel at "Negro stations" and shop in "Negro stores." Jessie has reservations about leaving all the good things she knows in the South but grows increasingly optimistic about improved prospects elsewhere as she gets farther from home. After several anxious days of driving, the travelers finally arrive in Lincoln, their new frontier. Lagarrigue's paintings are subdued but powerful and well-suited to Harrington's somber, poetic narrative voice. Contrasting shades and changing textures are used to evoke the characters' emotions and to highlight the passing landscape. On the endpapers, an outline map showing the family's journey is painted on a road map, setting the tone for the book. A brief author's note is appended. A solid choice for readers who aren't quite ready for Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963 (Dell, 1995).–Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. It's 1964 in Alabama, and Jessie's African American family prepares to leave the South for better jobs and schools. Jessie knows that the best opportunities lie further north, but she doesn't want to leave her beloved grandparents and familiar home: "I wish my toes were roots. / I'd grow into a pin oak and never go away." Then moving day arrives, and the family piles into the station wagon for a long drive to Nebraska. In subtle, cadenced poetry, Harrington brings close the stark realities blacks faced in the segregated South ("Can't stop anywhere. / Only the Negro stations, / only the Negro stores") as well as Jessie's growing excitement as she considers what's ahead: "listening to the tires / make a road-drum, a road-beat: / good luck / good luck / good luck." Lagarrigue's paintings beautifully capture the family scenes in the car and the endless, shifting landscape from the window in soft-edged, thickly brushed strokes that heighten the emotions in Jesse's words--the nostalgia, the worry, and the bittersweet hope about a promising new place. Pair this with Jacqueline Woodson's Coming on Home Soon [BKL Ag 04], another quiet, powerful portrait of an African American child's view of family migration. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (September 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374326819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374326814
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miss M's Fourth Graders on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Going North, by Jane N. Harrington, is a book about a girl named Jesse and her family. They are going north from Alabama to Alaska. They have to go north so their parents can have a better job. When the mom tells Jesse it's time to go Jesse gets sad .She goes outside touches the dog, feels the dirt and gives a hug to Big Mama. She says farewell to everyone. Big Mama says to take care. Jesse says it back. They leave. Jesse looks out the window and looks at the boys and girls playing. She says good bye, good bye, good bye. After a couple of hours, the car needed gas but the only gas station didn't accept black people. They tried to look for another gas station. Before they knew it they had found a gas station that accepted them. After they had put gas they kept going north. That night they slept in the car. At sunrise they kept on going. After some hours they got there- they were in the city. They wondered how their lives were going to change in the north.

This book has beautiful language and is written like poetry. It has personification like "the road whispers the tires mumble.....good night , good night , good night," This book also has alliteration like " I hear the tires bumping, beating out good bye, good bye, good bye." It also has repetition like "Looking and looking until I finally see. Here is an other example of repetition: "Be brave, be brave, be brave we're together." The lesson I learned from this book was to stay together no matter what.

By Jennifer
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Format: Hardcover
Going North is the semi-autobiographical story of an African American family’s move from Alabama to Nebraska in the early 1960s. The story is told from the perspective of Jessie, a young girl who is reluctant to leave the home she loves. She is both anxious and optimistic about the prospect of a new life in the North.

This book is appropriate for readers in grades 3 – 5, who are beginning to move away from egocentrism and beginning to be able to see things from others’ perspectives. It is set in the segregated South of the 1960s. This is conveyed both in text, with statements like, “Can’t stop just anywhere./Only the Negro stations,/only the Negro stores,” and with images of the African American family staying in their car at a gas station while a white family’s car is serviced by a white attendant. Jessie, the narrator, is the only character who is very well developed. Because she is telling the story, we get a sense of her own fears and hopes. Despite its focus on racial tensions, the book manages to avoid stereotypical portrayals.

The rich language conveys powerful images such as “I wish my toes were roots./I’d grow into a pin oak and never go away.” The language uses literal descriptions, onomatopoeia, and metaphor. Phrases such as “good luck,” with the first word in the phrase in larger print than the second, imitate the sounds of tires on a road. The themes of memory and movement are conveyed through the misty quality of the oil painting illustrations and the multiple perspectives of the yellow station wagon as it heads north. Jessie’s concerns, such as whether she will like her new home and if she will have much in common with the children there, are common to many children as they move to a new city.
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Going North (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards))
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