Perfection Learning, 1998. 978-0780780767
Winner of the 1988 Coretta Scott King Book Award
Synopsis: Cassie Logan and her brothers come face-to-face with the realities of what it means to be a black man who is friends with a white man when they stop for medicine on the way home from school.
Why I picked it up: I’ve read some of Taylor’s other work and liked it.
Why I finished it: Taylor writes with such clarity about a period of American history in which lines between black and white were becoming more clearly established. This story isn’t very long, but it hit me between the eyes because of the clear tension established within the first couple of pages. The Logan children certainly don’t live in a bubble, and they are well aware of the ‘rules’ and boundaries established to ‘keep them in line’. It’s a reminder that as the times changed, so did the people and their relationships. Even though Tom Bee has saved the life of John Wallace – a white storekeeper – he is still seen as a lesser man because of his race. The friendship forged between the two men seems to have changed more than both of them realized, and it makes both the reader and the Logans aware of the growing rift between black and white. Ginsburg’s illustrations are just as moving as Taylor’s words, bringing to life the characters and the conflict. The line drawings may seem simple at first, but they are detailed in a way that draws the reader deeper into the story. It makes the reader think hard about the issue of race in the South during the depression and the complications of trying to maintain what once was in the face of what is.
Other related materials: Song of the Trees by Mildred D. Taylor; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor; Let the Circle be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor; The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor; The Land by Mildred D. Taylor; The Well: David’s Story by Mildred D. Taylor; Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone; The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis; Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis; Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis; The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis; In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord