Uncle Jed's Barber Shop

Overview

Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He had a kind heart and a warm smile. And he had a dream.
Living in the segregated South of the 1920's, where most people were sharecroppers. Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers' hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks, from five-year-old Sarah Jean's emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression,...

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Overview

Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He had a kind heart and a warm smile. And he had a dream.
Living in the segregated South of the 1920's, where most people were sharecroppers. Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers' hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks, from five-year-old Sarah Jean's emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression, before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop — and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.
With James Ransome's richly colored paintings brimming with life, this is a stirring story of dreams long deferred and finally realized.

Despite serious obstacles and setbacks Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed, the only black barber in the county, pursues his dream of saving enough money to open his own barbershop.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At age 79, Uncle Jed, after a lifetime of obstacles (including segregation and the Great Depression), finally realizes his dream of owning a barbershop. "Convivial descriptions of family life are enhanced by Ransome's spirited oil paintings," said PW. Ages 4-7. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Uncle Jed, a black, itinerant barber in the pre-Depression South, dreams of opening his own shop. He saves for years, but first his niece, who narrates the story, needs an operation, and then the bank in which his money is kept fails. The man's spirit never flags, however, and he finally starts his own business at age 79. Sarah Jean, whose life was saved by her uncle's generosity, is by this time a middle-aged adult, and shares in his pleasure. Mitchell's text is eloquent in its simplicity. Straightforward, declarative sentences explain such concepts as segregation and sharecropping without emotional overtones, while her subdued prose makes readers keenly aware of the injustice of segregation. Through Sarah Jean's eyes, readers see both the poverty and discrimination endured and the sense of community and caring shared by her family and friends. Ransome's richly textured oil paintings, uncluttered and direct, beautifully complement the text. These are strong characters captured with forceful brush strokes, yet the illustrations also include such details as a crocheted saddle blanket. Both touching and inspirational, this book is ideal for story hours featuring favorite relatives, and it could start children saving for their own dreams.-Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Deborah Abbott
Set in the 1920s and told from young Sarah Jean's point of view, this story about dreams and determination spotlights segregation. Uncle Jed, the only black barber in the county, walks to his friends and relatives to give haircuts, saving whatever money he can. He dreams of owning a barbershop. When Sarah Jean suddenly needs surgery and the white doctors refuse to operate until they have the cash to pay for it, Uncle Jed provides the money. His dream is postponed again when all his money is lost in a bank failure. Finally, years later at age 79, Uncle Jed opens his shop, and Sarah Jean, now a grown woman, is there to help celebrate. There is a quiet solidarity in the child's fond memories of a favorite relative. Still, the reader wants more. For example, Sarah Jean's surgery is a focal point, yet the author includes few details. The author also understates emotions in a frustrating way. When Uncle Jed learns of the bank failure, the text says of him, "Even though he was disappointed, he would just have to start over again." A real strength is the paintings, which capture memorable characters and family life in the rural South with a warmth and depth that is truly moving. The bright colors and the farm scenes with golden fields as well as those homey indoor family times enhance Mitchell's message. Try reading this picture book to older children.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671769697
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1993
  • Edition description: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 779,519
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me won the 2014 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. His other award-winning titles include Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell; Deborah Hopkinson’s Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt; Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award; and Satchel Paige, written by his wife, Lesa. Mr. Ransome teaches illustration at Pratt Institute and lives in upstate New York with his family. Visit James at JamesRansome.com.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Pursuing Your Passion. Jedediah Johnson's tenacity will encourag

    Pursuing Your Passion.
    Jedediah Johnson's tenacity will encourage readers to pursue their passion and career goal regardless of the setbacks and obstacles. The color illustrations enhanced the enjoyment of the storyline. Each illustration offers great detail and beauty. As the storyline unfolds we, the readers, receive some insight to past history about what occurred in the U.S.A. during 1929 and the years following 1929. *Inspirational. *Educational. *Informative. *Encouraging storyline.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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