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Children's LiteratureThis picture book about what it was like for African-Americans in the segregated south is particularly well done. Before young Sarah Marie learns to read the notorious "whites only" signs, she is told that picnic lunches for trips south to visit Grandmama are better than lunch counter meals, that seats in the back of the bus are roomier, and that water coolers are off-limits because of germs. Sarah Marie's innocence is lost when she learns to read and discovers the truth. The lazy summer days of her childhood are effectively set against a dark undercurrent of prejudice. Soft Pinckney-like watercolor illustrations are appealing, and the bright colors in the girls' dresses and hair bows stand out clearly against drab gray and brown scenes where the children are excluded. Heads held proudly, the family walks downtown, and we see the chiseled, anonymous faces of white patrons at forbidden locales in the background. Irony is evident in the American flag beside the post office as the family walks past a "whites only" water cooler. The book ends on a hopeful note as Sarah Marie describes changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement. This moving story of one African-American family's struggle to maintain their dignity is especially timely in light of Rosa Park's recent death. Includes an author's note. 2005, Albert Whitman & Co, Ages 5 to 8.