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 Birmingham
(Dell, 1995).–Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
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*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 EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved