Pitman takes a unique narrative approach to the Stonewall riots by introducing a series of meaningful objects associated with the historical event. The first of the objects is the Jefferson Livery Stable on Christopher Street, which eventually became the Stonewall Inn. Subsequent items of focus include a photograph of protestors; a statement of purpose from the Daughters of Bilitis, a gay women’s organization; an NYPD nightstick (“officers were dressed in full riot gear” during the event); and a New York Times article reporting the raid. Many of the objects are symbolic cultural artifacts, such as Judy Garland’s dress from
The Wizard of Oz: “many people in the LGBT community see themselves and their experiences reflected in The Wizard of Oz.” Pitman’s fresh storytelling brings emotion and depth to the history of a movement and the establishment that served as an epicenter for social change. Back matter provides a timeline, significant notes on each object, and lists of additional resources. Ages 10–up. (May)
"In brief chapters themed around objects and places associated with the run-up, aftermath, and three days of rioting, readers get a credible reconstruction of events and the context with which to frame it."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The narrative is presented through a series of "objects": photographs of places, people, or items, such as a police officer's nightstick, a parking meter, a matchbook, or a protest leaflet. Though each object only reveals a small part of the story, together they reveal a powerful picture and offer rich historical context . . . [An] inviting, engaging, and well-researched approach to history."
**STARRED REVIEW** "With meaningful content delivered in an innovative format,
The Stonewall Riots deserves to be required reading for people of all ages."
Gr 6–9—A thorough if somewhat disjointed examination of the events before, during, and in the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots gives young readers an overview of the LGBTQ+ activism of the 1950s and 1960s. Pitman traces meeting places, social clubs, and the rise of organizations and activist groups as well as the many police raids of gay establishments, focusing on the June 28, 1969, raid on the mob-owned Stonewall Inn. Due to a lack of documented accounts, use of pseudonyms, and conflicting reports, controversies remain over the actuality of events at Stonewall. Post-Stonewall, readers learn about the increase in radical groups and visibility that challenged negative attitudes and discrimination. Pitman occasionally expands the narrative focus to examine what was happening in various places around the country and to consider other issues and movements of the time, including weaknesses and missteps in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights. The unique approach of using various objects (matchbooks, leaflets, buttons, arrest records, photographs, and more, with many reproductions too small or low resolution to read) to guide, inform, and reconstruct the story of the riots prevents a smooth narrative flow and makes the text feel repetitive as it moves back and forth in time. Back matter includes a time line, notes, bibliography, and an index. VERDICT An important look at a major moment in American history. Readers will come to understand why the iconic Stonewall Inn is now on the National Register of Historic Places, a National Historic Landmark, and a National Monument.— Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN
A substantive look at a key moment in the history of the LGBTQIAP-equality movement.
Pitman provides readers with a well-rounded look at gay and lesbian—and to a somewhat lesser extent transgender—life in America in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. She smartly uses the introduction to remind young readers that the term "LGBTQ+" is an evolving one and notes that source materials through the account may use various versions of the initialism. Organized around "objects" (often photos, sometimes cultural touchstones), the book begins with the construction of what would become the Stonewall and briefly touches on gay and lesbian life pre-1940s, but the story begins to delve deeply into the movement in the 1950s. Along the way, Pitman deftly weaves in social issues of the time—women's liberation, the Black Power movement, El Movimiento, etc.—along with frank discussions of the ideological weaknesses sometimes found in the gay community: racism, transphobia, internalized homophobia, and misogyny. The story provides a balanced if somewhat scattered account. For all it does well, Pitman's narrative has a tendency to meander, and some parts feel repetitive. The backmatter alone is almost worth the purchase price, as it includes a timeline, footnotes, and a healthy bibliography. The book makes good use of images throughout the text, but the absence of captions for some photos is an irritant, and image credits do not take up the slack.
A user-friendly look at a watershed event and its context. (index)