Mayfield Crossing

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All the kids from Mayfield Crossing are excited about going to the new school at Parkview. It'sbigger and newer than their old school and, best of all, it has a first-rate basball field. It never occured to any of them that they wouldn't even be allowed to played on the Parkview field.

At Mayfield, nobody ever thought about who was white and who was black. They were all just friends. But it's 1960, and the Parkview kids aren't ready to accept ...

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Overview

All the kids from Mayfield Crossing are excited about going to the new school at Parkview. It'sbigger and newer than their old school and, best of all, it has a first-rate basball field. It never occured to any of them that they wouldn't even be allowed to played on the Parkview field.

At Mayfield, nobody ever thought about who was white and who was black. They were all just friends. But it's 1960, and the Parkview kids aren't ready to accept newcommers—-especially if they're a different color.

t's the first time any of the Mayfield kids have experienced the real pain of prejedice, but by sticking together they all become outsiders...and discover that overcoming trouble can be the strenght that makes a winning team.

Author Biography: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, originally from a small Pennsylvania town, now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband.

When the school in Mayfield Crossing is closed, the students are sent to larger schools, where the black children encounter racial prejudice for the first time. Only baseball seems a possibility for drawing people together.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fourth-grader Meg experiences prejudice for the first time after the Mayfield Crossing schoolhouse is closed and she is forced to attend Parkview, previously all-white. Ostracized and taunted because she is black, Meg begins to empathize more with another victim of cruelty, ``Old Hairy,'' the town eccentric. Urged by her parents to ``give people a chance,'' Meg acts kinder to Old Hairy and manages to keep her temper in check at school--until she is falsely accused of cheating. Those unfamiliar with problems of integration during the pre-civil rights era may be shocked by the open hatred and racial slurs--``pickaninny,'' ``tar baby,''--directed at the protagonist; however, incidents of bigotry are skillfully balanced with moments of compassion and understanding. Stressing that prejudice is chiefly the product of ignorance, Nelson demonstrates the importance of family values and the power of nonviolent resolutions. Well-written and timely. Illustrations not seen by PW . Ages 8-12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature
When Mayfield Crossing's integrated elementary school is closed, its students are divided up and sent to other area schools. For Meg and her friends, the newer, more privileged Parkview Elementary seems to provide a lot of potential, especially with its new baseball field. But from the first day at the new school, Meg realizes that her new classmates have a very different attitude about their new classmates from Mayfield Crossing. As the only black girl in her class, Meg gets the cold shoulder from her seatmate Ivy and verbal taunts from others; her (white) friend Mo is ostracized because she is Meg's friend. Eventually, she is accused of cheating by a white boy who can't believe that a "colored" from Mayfield could know the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order. Even some of the teachers take an attitude about the "second-class" students from Mayfield Crossing. Tensions come to a halt when the baseball players from Mayfield Crossing challenge the team from Parkview to a game, and it is within this competition that the students from both schools realize that there is a place for mutual respect among them. Although this book is written very simply, it's message is as powerful as its classic predecessor To Kill A Mockingbird or the more recently published Spite Fences by Trudy Krisher—prejudice and racism are wrong, and children can be the brokers of change if given the opportunity and support. This book is highly recommended for teachers wanting to discuss tolerance in the classroom. 2002, Puffin Books,
— Jean Boreen
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-- The old rural school at Mayfield has been closed, and Meg, her brother, and her friends are being sent to the larger Parkview school. It is 1960, and racial integration in schools is a tender issue. Parents gently warn the country kids that they may encounter discrimination in the new school, and sure enough, it happens. Meg is the only black child in her class. When it is time to pick teams for baseball (an important event for Mayfield kids), they are ignored. A subplot involves a shell-shocked war veteran the kids call Old Hairy and who eventually becomes their protector. Meg and Billie are unwillingly drawn into a playground fight, but all ends well with a good baseball game. The racial tension inherent in this story is diluted: all of the children from the old school are picked on, black and white alike. The author attempts to portray prejudice without using pejorative language, but it just doesn't sound scary, only inappropriate. The power to make the story zing is not here. --Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Janice Del Negro
It's 1960, and the children of Mayfield Crossing are excited about going to bigger, newer Parkview School. But while in Mayfield Crossing it didn't matter if you were black or white, at Parkview things are different. The children soon realize that they are viewed as unworthy and unwanted by some people at the school. Fourth-grader Meg narrates the story of the Mayfield children and their first encounter with racial prejudice. Always true to the child's point of view, the story is so involving, and Nelson's characters are so realistic, that the reader's sympathies are thoroughly engaged. Facing not only the open hostility of youngsters mouthing the bigotry they've learned at home, but also the "polite" prejudice of the adults who are supposed to teach them, the Mayfield children stick together and try to handle things on their own. Events come to a head at a championship baseball game between Mayfielders and Parkviewers. Tricked into having to forfeit because of a shortage of players, the Mayfielders are saved by a Parkview student with whom Meg has had some positive interaction. Then the game commences, but the real victory has already been won. Avoiding the preachy and the didactic, Nelson presents an accessible microcosm of racial issues and human relationships.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785720720
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.66 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was hot and dusty, and the woods that surrounded the Crossing were still mostly green, but some of the trees were touched with red or orange or yellow. I hadn't seen much beyond those woods and the town of Mayfield Crossing, none of us had.

Tomorrow we will, I thought, catching a perfect pitch.

"Strike two," I said, keeping the cool in my voice but feeling like jumping dean to the sky, both for the strike and for tomorrow.

Billie didn't even crack a smile He knew the game wasn't over. He was concentrating on his next pitch.

My brother had some arm. He could throw a ball so hard it stung your hand right through the mitt. We needed a pitch like that now. The score was tied at six, they had runners on second and third, there were two outs, and Luke Cleary was up.

I slid my catcher's mask away from my face.

"Keep it on, Meg," Billie called in his protective way. "Can't see," I yelled back, but flipped it down just the same.

"You're doin' fine," Luke said, taking a practice swing, his red hair reflecting the sunlight. "That was a good call. I shoulda swung."

That meant something, coming from Luke. He was eleven, two years older, and treating me like an equal. Luke was good. Real good. Most times, if he was on your team, you could plan on winning.

But we were lucky today. We had Fitch Sherman on our side. He was the king of double plays and loved playing shortstop, but, as usual, we only had four players on each team, so today he was covering between first and second base. His twin brother Owen was covering second and third. From where I was, it was like seeing double.

Owen was the fastesttalker this side of the tracks, but he couldn't play baseball worth spit. Trouble was, Owen stuck to his brother like glue. It was common knowledge in Mayfield Crossing that if you planned anything with Fitch, you got the whole package. But Owen was all right I'd eat a plateful of liver if I ever heard he told a lie.

"Take your time, Turner. Take your time," Owen called to Billie.

Dillon Wood was standing on the tree stump we used as second base, looking the other way, probably bird watching. He was the best on foot in the Crossing, famous for stretching a double or even a triple out of a hit that'd only put most on first base. But it was Alice Cleary I was worried about.

She had her foot right on the edge of our third-base rock, ready to charge the instant Luke connected or I dropped a ball. Alice could steal a base fast as a jack rabbit, and she was known for blinding the catcher with dust on a slide. It hadn't rained in weeks, so already the dust was heavy, showing like powder on my brown arms. I tugged one of my pigtails, then threw it behind my shoulder. I knew I could catch, but I wasn't good under pressure.

"Come on, Lukey," Mo Cleary said from behind me. She was up next and standing on a log near home plate. Right then, I wished it was her on third base instead of Alice. Mo never stole a base in her life. Didn't think it was fair.

If Luke struck out, it would be the bottom of the ninth and our chance to break the tie and win the game. With school starting tomorrow, it would be the last game of the summer, so everybody wanted to win bad.. A cloudburst with lightning and thunder couldn't have ended the game.

Luke held the bat like he planned to send the ball to Jupiter. But just as Billie threw his emergency pitch, a slow curve ball we called the "Untouchable Turner," Dillon shouted, "Here comes Old Hairy!"

"Shoot," Billie said.

Luke dropped the bat and ran toward left field. By the time I knew what had happened, the ball was safe in my glove and everybody was running. Running away from the dusty Mayfield School ball field, away from the game of the year, maybe the best short-handed game of our entire lives. But nobody cared who won anymore."Come on, Meg!" Billie yelled I picked up the bat and raced over third base after them. We all hid behind some bushes and, catching my breath, I watched Old Hairy come out of the woods behind first base and stroll onto the field.Old Hairy wasn't really that old, but he was strange. He wore faded overalls and a plaid flannel shirt even though it was hot as blazes. And he had so many whiskers, he looked like a werewolf. Mama said he was "an original." But to Mayfield kids, he was a terror. Old Hairy skipped up to home plate with a quick fight step, kind of like he was doing a soft-shoe dance. He moved his arms like he was swinging a bat, then started running around the bases."Man, he's crazy," Owen said."Yeah," Billie said, wiping sweat from his forehead with his shirttail and keeping his eyes on Hairy, "but at least Old Hairy won't be crashing our games at the new school. He won't be able to find us."I glanced across the field at the Mayfield schoolhouse. It was a sorry sight with the windows all boarded up.

Tomorrow we were going to Parkview Elementary, a bigger school with kids from other neighborhoods. It had been nice, being in a small school, knowing everybody. But we'd heard that Parkview had a huge ball field with thick grass, and we were itching to try it out. And there would be lots more kids, so we'd be sure to have enough players to cover the field. Besides, at Mayfield Old Hairy was always coming around and breaking things up. We'd be safe from him at Parkview.

A loud whistle pierced the air. It was Mrs. Sherman calling for the twins.

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