The Great Migration: Journey to the North

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Overview

We were one family among the many thousands. Mama and Daddy leaving home, coming to the city, with their hopes and their courage, their dreams and their children, to make a better life.

When Eloise Greenfield was four months old, her family moved from their home in Parmele, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C. Before Jan Spivey Gilchrist was born, her mother moved from Arkansas and her father moved from Mississippi. Both settled in Chicago, ...

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Overview

We were one family among the many thousands. Mama and Daddy leaving home, coming to the city, with their hopes and their courage, their dreams and their children, to make a better life.

When Eloise Greenfield was four months old, her family moved from their home in Parmele, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C. Before Jan Spivey Gilchrist was born, her mother moved from Arkansas and her father moved from Mississippi. Both settled in Chicago, Illinois. Though none of them knew it at the time, they had all become part of the Great Migration.

In this collection of poems and collage artwork, award winners Eloise Greenfield and Jan Spivey Gilchrist gracefully depict the experiences of families like their own, who found the courage to leave their homes behind during The Great Migration and make new lives for themselves elsewhere. The Great Migration concludes with a bibliography.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Frequent collaborators Greenfield and Gilchrist (Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems) shape an evocative portrait of African-Americans who moved North during the Great Migration between 1915 and 1930 to escape Ku Klux Klan–fueled racism and to secure better lives. In forceful free verse, travelers bid farewell to what they've known. One man is conflicted about leaving his rural home ("Saying goodbye to the land puts a pain on my heart"), a woman can't wait to get away ("Goodbye, crazy signs, telling me where I can go, what I can do"), and a girl prepares to leave her mother ("I'm a little scared. I'm a lot scared. Off to the big city by myself, with just the church up there to lean on"). Chronicling the journey by train, lilting poetry and pictures capture a sense of both apprehension and hope: "Going to make it. No matter what." Making intriguing use of photographs of people, news headlines, maps, and painted elements, each of Gilchrist's collages has a distinctive look and lighting, ranging from conventional portraits of the travelers to more abstract images. Ages 3–8. (Jan.)
ALA Booklist
Praise for For the Love of the Game:“This book will set children soaring.”
Boston Globe
Praise for Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems:“Abounds with that special tenderness surrounding the everyday experiences in a child’s life. These poems beg to be read aloud.”
Horn Book Magazine
Praise for Brothers & Sisters: “Together their picture book celebrates how brothers get along with brothers, sisters with sisters, and various other combinations.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for The Friendly Four: “Has an open accessibility, with its big print and visually inviting pages, and an upbeat warmth.”
Charlotte Observer
Praise for Brothers & Sisters: “These are the sweetest poems for kids and families of all kinds.”
The Horn Book
Praise for The Friendly Four: “Idealistic and nostalgic...perfect for classroom readers’ theater or as a way for a young child to share reading with an older sibling or parent.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for The Friendly Four: “Has an open accessibility, with its big print and visually inviting pages, and an upbeat warmth.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for Brothers & Sisters:“Timeless…clear and universal. Everyone can relate to the poems’ affection, frustration, laughter, jealousy, and family pride, as well as the love that always shines through.”
The Horn Book
Praise for The Friendly Four: “Idealistic and nostalgic...perfect for classroom readers’ theater or as a way for a young child to share reading with an older sibling or parent.”
Boston Globe
Praise for Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems:“Abounds with that special tenderness surrounding the everyday experiences in a child’s life. These poems beg to be read aloud.”
Charlotte Observer
Praise for Brothers & Sisters: “These are the sweetest poems for kids and families of all kinds.”
Horn Book Magazine
Praise for Brothers & Sisters: “Together their picture book celebrates how brothers get along with brothers, sisters with sisters, and various other combinations.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Praise for The Friendly Four: “Has an open accessibility, with its big print and visually inviting pages, and an upbeat warmth.”
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Between 1915 and 1930, more than a million African Americans left the poverty and soul-crushing bigotry of the south to move to northern cities. Eloise Greenfield's family was part of this "Great Migration" and she documents, in free verse, the vastly mixed emotions of leaving a cruel land that is nonetheless the place of family and memories, and the fear and anticipation of going to a new place—a Promised Land—where the expectation of prosperity and the lack of fear beckon. Greenfield writes eloquently and emotionally, revealing the phases of each person's journey: the news of leaving, the sad goodbyes, the long trip, the questions about the choice to leave, and the reunion of families up north. Each poem is assigned "speakers," so it is a natural that this book will be used as a performance piece for choral readings and readers' theater. Illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist are evocative, showing in collage the emotional tearing of leaving home and the piecing together of new lives. A particularly reflective illustration shows a woman on a train, appearing to be asleep but also prayerful while the young girl next to her shoots her eyes warily out the train windows. All in all, this is a perfect blend of illustration and poetry to document an historical journey that is part of so many American families' experience. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
K-Gr 8—In eloquent verse, Greenfield narrates the story of the migration during the years 1915–1930 of more than a million African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in search of opportunity, employment, and fair treatment. The poems are arranged under five headings that represent the stages of the journey: "The News," "Goodbyes," "The Trip," "Question," and "Up North." Feelings of fear and apprehension resonate in the poetry, in the sad and hopeful voices of the men, women, and children who gave up all they knew and embarked on an unknown future. Simple words declare their reasons for going with quiet dignity, "Goodbye crazy signs, telling me/where I can go, what I can do," and share the immense pain of leaving. "Mama's making me go./She wants me to be happy/and safe. But I see the sadness/lying deep in her eyes." Gilchrist's illustrations gracefully complement the poetry; mixed-media collages incorporating line drawings, muted watercolor washes, newsprint clippings, photos, and sepia-toned illustrations depict warm family representations as well as stark desperation and anger. Greenfield's lyricism and her clear, narrative style make this book a solid choice for independent reading and for reading aloud. The Great Migration: An American Story (HarperCollins, 1993), illustrated with Jacob Lawrence's bold and moving paintings and including a verse by Walter Dean Myers, also portrays this historical event and can be used in conjunction with Migration.—Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY
Abby McGanney Nolan
Greenfield…presents a variety of scenes in moving, plainspoken verse…Each of Gilchrist's illustrations is distinctive…combining watercolor and collage…Children will find much to examine in her pictures…
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061259210
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/21/2010
  • Pages: 26
  • Sales rank: 497,825
  • Age range: 3 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Eloise Greenfield is the author of an illustrious list of books for young people, including The Friendly Four, a Texas 2x2 Reading List book; In the Land of Words, an NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts; and How They Got Over: African Americans and the Call of the Sea, winner of a Bank Street Children's Book Award—all illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. She is a recipient of the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award; the Coretta Scott King Author Award; the Award of Excellence from the Washington, D.C., branch of the National Writing Project; the Milner Award; the Hope S. Dean Award from the Foundation for Children's Literature; and the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Ms. Greenfield lives in Washington, D.C.

Jan Spivey Gilchrist illustrated the Coretta Scott King Award Book Nathaniel Talking, the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Night on Neighborhood Street, and Me & Neesie, all written by Eloise Greenfield. She wrote and co-illustrated My America with Ashley Bryan, which was named a Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner. An inductee into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, Ms. Gilchrist received an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College and a doctoral degree in English from Madison University. She lives near Chicago, Illinois.

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