Follow the Leaderby Vicki Winslow
When her Southern school district is integrated in 1971, Amanda's nervous about what sixth grade will bring. But with her best friend Jackie at her side, she's ready for anything. But Jackie decides to go to a brand-new, private, all-white school, and Amanda must face public school alone. While she mourns the loss of Jackie's friendship, Amanda finds new friends, a challenging music teacher, and the courage to confront prejudice in Jackie and herself.
It's 1971 in Windsor, N.C., and school desegregation is about to begin when 11-year-old Amanda discovers that her best friend, Jackie, is going to attend a new private school rather than ride the bus across town to the formerly all-black elementary school. Amanda's parents insist that she attend the public school and readers follow the white girl through the summer and the first months of the school year as she deals with classroom tensions, conflicting emotions about her friendship with Jackie, and her subsequent attitudinal shifts about changing schools (all of which are compounded by early adolescent insecurities). Amanda comes to life in this first novel. She gets to know and appreciate children and adults she never would have met, if not for integration, and readers will be interested in her occasionally faltering growth. The courage of the youngsters who bore the brunt of this difficult social transition and the earnest, if sometimes misguided, efforts of the adults who shepherded them through it are convincingly portrayed. Though lacking the immediacy of the first-person accounts in Ellen Levine's Freedom's Children (Putnam, 1993), this is an accessible and, possibly, less-daunting look at an important era in our not-too-distant past.
-- Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY
- San Val, Incorporated
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