From the Publisher
"The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges." School Library Journal
"The photos are electrifying. Beautifully reproduced in sepia prints, the archival images humanize the politics of the civil rights movement." Booklist, ALA
"Puts history in context for a new generation of readers." Bookpage
"Beautiful and thorough." Columbus Dispatch
Painful, personal and provocative, [Morrison's] focused visual history serves as a potent catalyst for discussing segregation and integration.
The San Francisco Chronicle
The Washington Post
Morrison uses fictional dialogue to imagine the thoughts and emotions of the subjects in the photos, often with poignant results. The images are familiar, but the feelings Morrison taps into are fresh.Nia Malika-Henderson
Spare, eloquent text and evocative photos present a child's-eye view of school integration: "The law says I can't go to school with white children ... I am seven years old. Why are they afraid of me?" With each sepia-toned photo, Pulitzer Prize winner Morrison invents a first-person narrative for the children depicted. More than a history lesson, the book inspires empathy for differing perspectives. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Assembling more than 50 photographs depicting segregation, school scenes and events prior to and following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, Morrison (Who's Got Game?) writes that "because remembering is the mind's first step toward understanding," her book is designed to take readers "on a journey through a time in American life when there was as much hate as there was love." She adds, she has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs to help tell this story." The photographs have a uniformly high impact. Some will be familiar: first-grader Ruby Bridges escorted by U.S. marshals from a newly integrated school; white adults' faces contorted with rage as they heckle black students. Against this disturbing backdrop, perhaps the most striking images are the rare moments of unguarded affection, as when a black girl and a white girl smile candidly at each other in a high school cafeteria. However, it's odd to see words invented for Ruby Bridges, who has told her own story elsewhere, and for other public figures; and not all the imagined words ring true (e.g., beneath a photo of three white teens wearing signs protesting the integration of their high school: "My buddies talked me into this.... These guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they're wrong. Aren't they?"). Odd, too, is the decision to put events that lead up to integration (the bus boycott, lunch counter protests) out of sequential order. In the end, the pairing of the fictional text with the historical photographs poses a problem: how much is the audience asked to "remember" and how much to "imagine"? All ages. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This title is all about the pictures. Designed to deliver a powerful emotional impact, the book's mesmerizing sepia photos, mostly of children, artfully interspersed with Morrison's brief interpretations, give today's youngsters a glimpse into the 1950s struggle for civil rights. Hatred, yes, but also hope and the beautiful curiosity and empathy of childhood shine forth, strongly reminding readers that good does, eventually, prevail. Dr. King, Rosa Parks, the Warren Supreme Court, and other famous figures are here, but they are secondary to the images of children playing, studying, eating, demonstrating, and finally integrating. Morrison, in her imagery-filled introduction, charges young readers to understand their precious inheritance. She tells how the courtroom battle for decent education led to the elimination of racist laws, and how the struggle was painful, violent, and long. She relates her own experiences in those days and of the kindness of strangers who took her and her fellow students into their homes. "These were country people . . . denied adequate education, relegated to backs of buses and separate water fountains, menial jobs or none," but whose souls were untainted by racial segregation. Key events in civil rights and school integration history as well as detailed photo notes give historical perspective. Dedicated to the four children killed in the Birmingham church in 1963, the book is a "must have" for elementary African American collections and is appropriate for any archival collection. Deliberately published on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, this book is a sparkling gem. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any betterwritten; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Houghton Mifflin, 80p.; Photos. Source Notes. Chronology., $18. Ages 11 to 15.
In Morrison's eloquent introduction to this photo-essay, she invites readers to understand the events of the "separate but equal" schools that existed in the 50s and 60s. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the book presents more than 50 black and white archival photographs, many of ordinary young people of the times, juxtaposed with Morrison's thought-provoking comments. The provocative, though limited, text and stark pictures may be useful for teacher-directed class discussions; however, younger children may be confused by some of the narrative accompanying the photographs. Although parts of the text seem to reflect the events surrounding the photographs, others will require explanation. In some pictures, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of the children and encourages the reader to think about how they would feel in the situation. A timeline to the period as well as photo notes are included. This book was awarded the 2005 Coretta Scott King Medal by the American Library Association. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-8-This unusual blend of archival photographs, historical background, and fictional narrative brings to life the experiences and emotions of the African-American students who made the tumultuous journey to school integration. Dramatic, mostly full-page, black-and-white photographs make up the bulk of the book. An introduction sets the scene, and factual pages, consisting of several sentences, are scattered throughout. They explain the significance of the events, the trauma of racial conflict, the courage and determination of African Americans and their supporters, and the importance of remembering and understanding. With poignant simplicity and insight, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the pictures. The wrenching, inspiring autobiographical school integration memoirs of first-grader Ruby Bridges (Through My Eyes [Scholastic, 1999]) and Little Rock Nine high school junior Melba Pettillo Beals (Warriors Don't Cry [Washington Square, 1995]) offer greater immediacy and convey a powerful message for future generations about the need for understanding, self-awareness, and self-respect. However, Morrison's reflective interpretation presents a gentler guide for younger readers. Appended are a chronology of "Key Events in Civil Rights and School Integration History"; "Photo Notes" that describe the actual date, location, and content of each picture; and a dedication that recalls the four young girls killed in the bombing of their Birmingham, AL, church in 1963. The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Morrison attempts to tell the story of Southern school integration through archival photographs oddly juxtaposed with a confusing narrative. Introductory words explain that Morrison has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs chosen to help tell this story." Unfortunately, it's often difficult to tell who is doing the talking. On one page is a picture of black and white schoolchildren joyfully running out of school together; on the opposite page are white teenagers tipping a car. The text for both pages reads, "Great! Now we can have some fun!" Endnotes place each photo in historic context, but at least one note is inaccurate. Gov. George Wallace closed Huntsville schools, but the note states "integration in Huntsville schools took place without incident." Staying closer to the theme of school integration would have helped keep focus, especially in the later section, essentially a presentation of every civil-rights icon from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King. While it's nice to see familiar photographs collected in one place, the overall feeling of the narrative is confusion. Younger children will need adults to help with interpretation. (timeline, photo notes) (Nonfiction. 8-14)