The Colored Car

Overview

In the hot summer of 1937, twelve-year-old Patsy Ford takes care of her three younger sisters and helps her mother put up fresh fruits and vegetables in the family’s summer kitchen, adjacent to the wood yard that her father, Douglas Ford, owns. Times are tough, and Patsy’s mother, May Ford, helps neighborhood families by sharing the food that she preserves. But May’s decision to take a break from canning to take her daughters for a visit to their grandmother’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee, sets in motion a ...
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The Colored Car

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Overview

In the hot summer of 1937, twelve-year-old Patsy Ford takes care of her three younger sisters and helps her mother put up fresh fruits and vegetables in the family’s summer kitchen, adjacent to the wood yard that her father, Douglas Ford, owns. Times are tough, and Patsy’s mother, May Ford, helps neighborhood families by sharing the food that she preserves. But May’s decision to take a break from canning to take her daughters for a visit to their grandmother’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee, sets in motion a series of events that prove to be life-changing for Patsy.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
Sweet family nostalgia combines with the harsh realities of coming of age African-American during the Great Depression. Patsy, based on the author's aunt, is 12 and has lived a contented life in Detroit. May Ford, Patsy's mama, busily works in her summer kitchen, a structure built by Patsy's hardworking father to allow his wife to chop, jar and store a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for winter. All is well with the world. However, when May decides to take her daughters to Tennessee by train, Patsy's view of the world is shaken. She is curiously unprepared for the hostilities of racism and discrimination and is changed forever when, upon the train's departure from Cincinnati, she and her family are forced to give up first-class seats for seats in the titular "colored car." Elster's story offers an engaging glimpse inside day-to-day life at that time. The narrative sparkles when guiding readers through the sights and sounds of Patsy's neighborhood. However, the story stumbles, seemingly sacrificing narrative ease for a determination to adhere to the real-life events it is based on. Thus, Patsy's reaction to racism feels melodramatic and confusing, marring an otherwise easy and informed read. Sharp historic insight wars with cumbersome sentimentality in this sometimes-overwrought yet heartfelt tale. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814336069
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2013
  • Series: Great Lakes Books Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 432,778
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Alicia Elster is a professional writer of fiction for children and young adults. She is the granddaughter of Douglas and Maber (May) Jackson Ford, whose family story is the basis of The Colored Car. Her other books include Who's Jim Hines? (Wayne State University Press, 2008), which was selected as a Michigan Notable Book and a ForeWord Book of the Year finalist; I'll Do the Right Thing; I'll Fly My Own Plane; I Have a Dream, Too!; and Just Call Me Joe Joe.
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