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Uncle Jed's Barbershop Hardcover – August 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671769693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671769697
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time author Mitchell crowds several themes--segregation, racism, the Depression, the American Dream--into her enterprising story. Sarah Jean's great uncle Jedediah, "the only black barber in the county," hangs on to his ambition to open a barber shop, despite a lifetime of obstacles that deplete his savings. First, Sarah Jean requires an expensive operation; later, the bank failures of the Depression wipe out his painstakingly replenished account. The author's convivial depictions of family life are enhanced by Ransome's ( Red Dancing Shoes ) spirited oil paintings, which set the affectionate intergenerational cast against brightly patterned walls and crisp, leaf-strewn landscapes. The defining element of the book, however, may well be the narrator's measured descriptions of the racial climate of the 1920s: "In those days, they kept blacks and whites separate. There were separate public rest rooms, separate water fountains, separate schools. It was called segregation." These starkly imposed social studies lessons, presented as interruptions to Uncle Jed's progress, also interrupt the narrative; readers will be impatient to attend his grand opening celebration at age 79 (along with a now-grown-up Sarah Jane). Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-Uncle Jed, a black, itinerant barber in the pre-Depression South, dreams of opening his own shop. He saves for years, but first his niece, who narrates the story, needs an operation, and then the bank in which his money is kept fails. The man's spirit never flags, however, and he finally starts his own business at age 79. Sarah Jean, whose life was saved by her uncle's generosity, is by this time a middle-aged adult, and shares in his pleasure. Mitchell's text is eloquent in its simplicity. Straightforward, declarative sentences explain such concepts as segregation and sharecropping without emotional overtones, while her subdued prose makes readers keenly aware of the injustice of segregation. Through Sarah Jean's eyes, readers see both the poverty and discrimination endured and the sense of community and caring shared by her family and friends. Ransome's richly textured oil paintings, uncluttered and direct, beautifully complement the text. These are strong characters captured with forceful brush strokes, yet the illustrations also include such details as a crocheted saddle blanket. Both touching and inspirational, this book is ideal for story hours featuring favorite relatives, and it could start children saving for their own dreams.
Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Surprisingly, the book was in mint condition!
Uncle Jed is a great character in this pages and it's his vibrancy and stoicism that pulls the book together.
E. R. Bird
This book should be on the required reading list for Middle & High School Students.
Wendell outlaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lynne P. Caldwell on October 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This fabulous book stole my heart. I feel so lucky to have a job that allows me to share my love of books with my wonderful students. I do my elementary counseling through children's literature. UNCLE JED'S BARBERSHOP is a book I enjoy reading over and over to kids of all ages. What a marvelous lesson. I think it is important for kids to be reminded of how unfair things were to African Americans many years ago. But the best part of the book reminds us all that if we work hard enough, we can realize our dream. Even after reading this book to six different classes in one day, I still cry my eyes out on the last few pages--the most perfect ending!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M.Waddy SJSU MLIS STUDENT on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sarah Jean's great Uncle Jed has a dream of opening up his own
barbershop. Sarah Jean explains to the reader that Great Uncle Jed is the only black barber in their county during segregation. He goes on horseback from house to home cutting Afro-American people's hair. One of Sarah Jean favourite thing is when Uncle Jed pretends to cut her hair. He would place the clippers next to her neck and then put on some great smelling lotion . One day Sarah Jean becomes very ill and the doctors will only operate if they had the three hundred dollars up front. Uncle Jed saves Sarah Jean's life when he gives her family the three hundred dollars he had been saving for his barbershop. Uncle Jed suffer another setback when the Great Depression hits and the bank holding his three thousand dollars fails. He has to start again from nothing in the middle of the Depression. Now Uncle Jed's customers can only paid him in food and clothing. Uncle Jed's dream is finally realized on his seventy ninth birthday. Uncle Jed attains his dream through unruffled courage and dignity. He does not allow racism or injustice get in the way.The realistic illustrations add to this wonderful book. A wonderful picture book for five to nine year old with the quiet message of following your dream no matter how long it takes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Picture books featuring black characters in history come out every year. Mostly these books are either folktales or deal directly with segregation and/or slavery. "Uncle Jed's Barbershop" is a little different. In it, the characters live in the deeply segregated South of the 1930s. Rather than let this be the focus of the book, however, author Margaree King Mitchell has chosen to simply allow this to be the background to the actual story. I appreciated greatly the fact that Mitchell was such an adept writer that she could teach kids history without making that history the focal point of the text. When you add this fact to "Uncle Jed's" emotion packed storyline, you find you've a book that's not only well written and illustrated but also deeply meaningful.

Sarah Jean lives with her parents on a farm in the South. Her favorite relative, by far, is her granddaddy's brother, Uncle Jedediah. The only black barber for miles around, Uncle Jed travels from home to home giving haircuts. His dream, however, is to someday have a barbershop of his own with sinks, "so shiny they sparkled, the floor so clean you could see yourself". When little Sarah Jean gets sick and needs an operation, however, Uncle Jed readily parts with the $300 required to make her better. A few years later he saves enough money to buy the land and build a building when the Depression hits. Suddenly all his money is gone and he has to start all over again. Finally, at the grand old age of seventy-nine, his dream becomes a reality. People from all over come to him and the now adult Sarah Jean sits in a seat and lets him twirl her around in a chair. Says Sarah Jean at the end, "Uncle Jed died not long after that, and I think he died a happy man". The final shot is of the autumn leaves falling past a window.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Marie Murphy on February 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was personally encouraged and touched by Uncle Jed's story. And, as a single mom who struggled to raise four children, I know how important it is to believe in your dream. But, even so, I think of my father who is now in his seventies, and could be encouraged by Uncle Jed.

What is important about Uncle Jed is that in spite of very discouraging circumstances, circumstances that would cause others to become bitter or to make excuses for not attaining their dreams, he has faith in his dreams. That faith causes him to pick up and go on. It sustains his selflessness. I see no bitterness, no "poor me" in Uncle Jed.

Uncle Jed is a great role model, not just for children, but even for adults who have experienced a lifetime of setbacks and necessary sacrifices.

What makes this book doubly significant, is the time in history the book is written. It could be a window for children, a view of how things once were in this country and to get them to think about how these things have impact on what is now. It can, also, help them to think about how things are for others outside of their own personal environment.

I plan on buying several copies of this: not just for the kids, but for many of the adults in my family.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
This story is an historical fiction account of an African American family who struggles during the Depression. This is a great book to teach: economics--scarcity of money affects decisions; perseverence; work ethics.
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