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Freedom Summer Paperback – Picture Book, January 1, 2005
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Library Talk, starred review An excellent book...History will come alive for present-day students.
From the Back Cover
He crawls like a catfish, blows bubbles like a swamp monster, but he doesn't swim in the town pool with me.
He's not allowed.
Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim.
But there's one important way they're different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn't allowed to do everything his best friend is.
Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there . . . only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people's hearts.
This stirring account of the "Freedom Summer" that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys' experience with racism and their friendship that defies it.
- Publisher : Aladdin; Reprint edition (January 1, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 32 pages
- ISBN-10 : 068987829X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0689878299
- Reading age : 4 - 8 years
- Lexile measure : AD600L
- Grade level : Preschool - 3
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 10 x 0.2 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #43,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue won both the 2002 Ezra Jack Keats Award as well as a Coretta Scott King Award. It begins with two friends enjoying the leisurely pace of summer, hanging around, being friends together, swimming in a local creek. “John Henry swims better than anybody” the narrator knows. They ecstatically anticipate the prospect of the local community pool’s opening day. But, when they arrive at the gates, the boys discover that the facility has been bulldozed. No one will swim there again.
Because this story takes place in a segregated America. In 1960, laws ensured blacks could not share facilities with whites. After desegregation legislation passed, instead of complying, Mobile, Alabama opted to close the town pool, ice cream parlor, and roller rink. Hate and prejudice blinded people to fairness and the rights of all citizens to equality and access to facilities. To deny blacks access, they denied the entire community access.
This award-winning book splendidly captures the boys’ friendship so when they encounter the closed pool, the reader feels dazed by the community’s betrayal. The conversations this book might open are important one on issues such as racism, prejudice as well as loyalty, friendship and thinking for oneself.
The forward by the other offers additional insights about her motives for writing the book as well as her personal encounters with segregation during her own childhood.
The potential for adoption-related conversations is broad. In addition to racial and cultural bias, adoptive families frequently encounter bias against their families. Our family ties are often questions in terms of permanency, depth and reality. This book can help families talk about standing up for ourselves as well as being a voice for others who face discrimination and bias.
--Gayle H. Swift, "ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book
This book is realistic, and we can always use more books about history. It's well-written, I like the artwork.
See, now, I have to ask this. Here's this book about integration, about hatred, about racism. It features a white boy and his black best friend. Best friend's big brother makes an appearance, too. The best friend is the one who feels heartbroken, he's the one who's suffering here...
So why is the white kid the narrator?
Is this story of friendship, and of hatred, really his story to tell? Why couldn't John Henry have told his own story?