White Water

( 2 )

Overview

For a young boy growing up in the segregated south, a town drinking fountain becomes the source of an epiphany.

It's a scorching hot day, and going into town with Grandma is one of Michael's favorite things. When the bus pulls up, they climb in and pay their fare, get out, walk to the back door, and climb in again. By the time they arrive in town, Michael's throat is as dry as a bone, so he runs to the water fountain. But after a few sips, the warm, rusty water tastes bad. Why ...

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Overview

For a young boy growing up in the segregated south, a town drinking fountain becomes the source of an epiphany.

It's a scorching hot day, and going into town with Grandma is one of Michael's favorite things. When the bus pulls up, they climb in and pay their fare, get out, walk to the back door, and climb in again. By the time they arrive in town, Michael's throat is as dry as a bone, so he runs to the water fountain. But after a few sips, the warm, rusty water tastes bad. Why is the kid at the "Whites Only" fountain still drinking? Is his water clear and refreshingly cool? No matter how much trouble Michael might get into, he's determined to find out for himself. Based on a transformative experience co-author Michael Bandy had as a boy, this compelling story sheds light on the reality of segregation through a child's eyes, while showing the powerful awareness that comes from daring to question the way things are.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time authors Bandy and Stein draw on one of Bandy's childhood memories in this resonant story about a boy awakening to the injustices around him. In town with his grandmother, Michael drinks from the "colored" fountain, whose water "taste like nasty, muddy, gritty yuck." Yet next to him, a boy at the whites-only fountain eagerly drinks, igniting Michael's curiosity ("Suddenly I just had to know what that white water tasted like"). Even ordinary things, when forbidden, can grip a child's imagination, and so it is with Michael, his obsession with "white water" producing several fantasy scenarios and eventually compelling him to sneak back to town, where he discovers that the water in both fountains tastes the same. Michael's determination and imaginativeness are evident in Strickland's (A Place Where Hurricanes Happen) pale mixed-media paintings, which make excellent use of outlines to portray the boy's imaginings, such as a snow-capped mountain range seen under the arc of water in the "white" fountain. If the all-consuming nature of Michael's fascination occasionally feels excessive, the strength of the book's imagery, as well as Michael's epiphany, amply compensate. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
From the seating on the bus to the two water fountains, this book is a good look at the segregated South. Strickland's illustrations compliment the text beautifully with a commitment to detail. This is an excellent title to be used for African-American history month, Civil Rights curriculum, and as a read-aloud for younger students.
—Library Media Connection (highly recommended)

Michael's determination and imaginativeness are evident in Strickland'spale mixed-media paintings, which make excellent use of outlines to portray the boy's imaginings.
—Publishers Weekly

Inspirational in tone, this is a strong introduction for young listeners and readers to the American Civil Rights movement.
—Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—A contemplative story set in the South in 1962. Michael loves going to town with his grandmother. Waiting for the bus, he gives up his seat on a bench when a white family arrives. Once he boards, he goes to the back without complaint. "Where we lived, that's how we did things," he explains simply. When they get to town, Michael heads straight for the water fountain marked "Colored." A boy from the bus goes to the "White" fountain. Michael is disappointed that his water tastes "nasty, muddy, gritty yuck," and he imagines how good the other water must taste. The watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations take a masterful turn to fantasy as Michael thinks of the white fountain as an amazing oasis in the desert. In a nightmare, however, giant policemen fill the walls of his room, ready to take him to jail for using it. Convinced that he must find out about the water for himself, he uses his plastic army men to map out a plan of attack. The tense tone of this section is leavened by the artwork. Michael puts his plan into motion while life-size plastic figures guard his path. He finally gets his drink and finds out that the same pipe feeds both fountains. "The signs… had put a bad idea in my head. But they were a lie. If they weren't real, what else should I question?" The child's experience makes him decide not to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his own determination. The story may strike some as simplistic, but it conveys a feeling of authenticity.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763636784
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 382,055
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael S. Bandy caught the writing bug when his third-grade teacher surprised him with a set of Dr. Seuss books. He's been writing plays, screenplays, and books ever since. He lives in Los Angeles and is involved in a number of children's charities.

Eric Stein has written for the children's TV series Star Street and was a supervising producer on the animated special Defenders of Dynatron City. He is also on the dive team at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where he swims with sharks almost every weekend.

Shadra Strickland is the illustrator of BIRD, for which she won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the John Steptoe award, and OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR, for which she won the NAACP Image Award. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    I love this book.

    I love this book, and the gentle way it presents such a complex issue. Perfect for opening discussions about race and historical perspective with young children.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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