From School Library Journal
Grade 3-8–This unusual blend of archival photographs, historical background, and fictional narrative brings to life the experiences and emotions of the African-American students who made the tumultuous journey to school integration. Dramatic, mostly full-page, black-and-white photographs make up the bulk of the book. An introduction sets the scene, and factual pages, consisting of several sentences, are scattered throughout. They explain the significance of the events, the trauma of racial conflict, the courage and determination of African Americans and their supporters, and the importance of remembering and understanding. With poignant simplicity and insight, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the pictures. The wrenching, inspiring autobiographical school integration memoirs of first-grader Ruby Bridges (Through My Eyes
[Scholastic, 1999]) and Little Rock Nine high school junior Melba Pettillo Beals (Warriors Don't Cry
[Washington Square, 1995]) offer greater immediacy and convey a powerful message for future generations about the need for understanding, self-awareness, and self-respect. However, Morrison's reflective interpretation presents a gentler guide for younger readers. Appended are a chronology of "Key Events in Civil Rights and School Integration History"; "Photo Notes" that describe the actual date, location, and content of each picture; and a dedication that recalls the four young girls killed in the bombing of their Birmingham, AL, church in 1963. The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
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Gr. 5-12. The photos are electrifying. Beautifully reproduced in sepia prints, the archival images humanize the politics of the civil rights movement. The leaders are shown, but the focus is on ordinary young people and the role they played in school integration. In her eloquent introduction, Morrison talks about what the pictures show: the reality of separate but equal, the 1954 Brown
vs. Board of Education
decision, the nationwide movement to eliminate racist laws. On the page opposite each photo, however, she imagines the thoughts and feelings of kids in the photos, and the intrusive fictionalized comments get in the way of the visual images ("I think she likes me, but . . .What will I do if she hates me?"). The fiction is not about the angry white mobs; there's no verbal racist confrontation. But there's hatred in the pictures, and children will constantly turn back to the photo notes at the end to find out more. Every library will want this not for the condescending made-up stuff but for the stirring history. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved