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White Socks Only (Albert Whitman Prairie Paperback) Paperback – January 1, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Subtle and stirring, this tale-within-a-tale begins with an affectionate exchange between an African American girl and her grandmother, then telescopes to encompass an electrifying moment fraught with personal and political significance. Grandma tells of sneaking off to town one sizzling summer day when she was a child, "planning on doing no good." Approaching a water fountain, the thirsty girl mistakes its "Whites Only" sign to mean that she should take off her shoes so that only her white socks will touch the step stool. A "big white man" grabs her and removes his belt to whip her-prompting African American bystanders to remove their shoes, too, and defiantly drink from the fountain. At home, the narrator's mother proclaims she can now go to town by herself, " 'cause you're old enough to do some good"; in town, "the 'Whites Only' sign was gone from that water fountain forever." Though Coleman (The Footwarmer and the Black Crow) complicates the story with some unnecessary subplots, the impact is strong. Geter's (Dawn and the Round-to-it) full- and double-page paintings can be hazy, but they conduct the story's considerable emotional charge. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4?In this story, a grandmother relates an incident from her childhood to her granddaughter. On a scorching hot Mississippi day, a little girl walks into town by herself to learn whether it really is possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Mission accomplished, she is on her way home when she stops for a drink of water. Interpreting the "whites only" sign on the water fountain to refer to socks, the African American child takes off her patent-leather shoes and has just begun to drink when an angry white man grabs her and pushes her to the ground. He threatens to "whup" her, but the black townspeople come to the girl's aid by taking off their shoes and drinking from the same fountain. The angry bigot then receives punishment at the hands of a local conjure man. Atmospheric paintings, smudged and moody, will draw readers into this gripping tale. However, the story has some unsettling elements. The protagonist is old enough to go into town alone, yet she is oblivious to the meaning of the "whites only" sign. Her certainty that the sign refers to white socks is also curious; knowing that is what it means implies some prior knowledge, but she clearly does not have the facts straight.?Anna DeWind, Milwaukee Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Series: Albert Whitman Prairie Paperback
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080758956X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807589564
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
My 1st grade students enjoyed this book.
Carol
This is an excellent story about American history and cultural awareness.
Caroline T. Briscoe
A white townsman is very angred by this and a confrontation ensues.
Okima M. Hitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
"White Socks Only" takes place in segregated Mississippi and does an excellent job of helping young children realize how foolish it is to judge others by the color of their skin. On a hot Mississippi day, a young African-American girl walks into town and stops at a drinking fountain to get a drink. She sees a "Whites Only" sign on the drinking fountain and misinterprets the meaning of the sign. She innocently thinks the sign must mean "White Socks Only", so she takes off her black, Sunday best shoes and steps up to the fountain wearing her clean white socks. Suddenly, an angry white man pushes her to the ground. Soon other African-Americans gather around the fountain. To show their support and understanding of the child's innocent mistake, one by one they also take off their shoes and step up to get a drink with red, yellow, or blue socks. She is rescued by the "Chicken Man," who has very unusual powers.
This book deals with the issue of racism in a way that young children can relate to and understand because it makes the idea of judging people by the color of their skin almost as foolish as judging people by the color of their socks. I read this book to my fifth grade class and it generated some wonderful discussions about racism, and treating others with respect and kindness regardless of who they are, where they live, the color of their skin, or what clothes they wear. I highly recommend this book.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Okima M. Hitt on February 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book, in an attempt to teach children about the injustice of prejudice, actually trivializes it. A little girl wanders into the busy downtown area of a segrgated southern city apparently oblivious to the danger around her. She mistakes a "Whites Only" sign on a public fountain as a direction to wear only white socks while drinking. A white townsman is very angred by this and a confrontation ensues. What I found disturbing about the story was the amount of violence against a little African American girl at the hands of a caucasian adult male and the African American adults who come to her aid. The white man is shown to "whup" the child and all of the adults none of whom seen willing or able to defend themselves. Given that there is no mention of the role of non-violent resistance in the Civil Rights movement, the African American adults simply appear helpless or worse witless. The day is saved when a "magic" man comes along and points at the white man and begins to whisper incantations. The white man runs away for fear and the whites only sign comes down forever. At the end of the book there is an illustration of a Chicken wearing a bandana like the one the white man was wearing. What is the messege here? That African Americans were passive? That they failed to teach their children about the dangers of the segrgated south? That they fought injustice with magic? If you want to teach children about the foolishness of prejudice, I suggest "The Story of Ruby Bridges" which focuses on courage,faith and determination.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book to my children and they loved it. Even at their ages - 7 and 8 - they clearly understood the irony of the title. This story gives children a front-row view of how ugly prejudice is, but does so in a gentle enough manner that it is appropriate for young ones.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annie on April 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book I read to first and second graders for library story time. Older students remember it and check it out later. Our school is religious based with a diverse student body.
The story and the illustrations keep the attention of the listeners. They find the little girl's interpretation and reactions to the events quite understandable. The children ask questions and discuss what happened so that they end up with an idea of civil rights and segregation in everday life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Conley on March 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The students in first grade have no understanding of the type of racism that went on just half a century ago. They became very involved with asking questions. Instead of just a short read; it became a history lesson. For them it became more of a bullying lesson because of their sweet little unspoiled souls.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By subteacher on November 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I use this book in the many classrooms I am in during Black History month. The children love the story and it generates many good discussions.
I use it mainly for first and second grades.
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Format: Paperback
Perfect for our homeschool library. Very easy for a five year old to understand. Check out storylineonline.net. SAG production has actor/actresses reading children stories....this is one of the books being read. You and your child can follow online with the book.
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Format: Paperback
It was a gentle way to segue into segregation for my kindergartner. The absurdity of Jim Crow laws, the courage of the girl, the collective actions of the community, etc. - subtle ways of introducing a part of our nation's history.
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White Socks Only (Albert Whitman Prairie Paperback)
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