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Denise Wilms (Booklist, Aug. 1, 2001 (Vol. 97, No. 22))
Tricia Ann excitedly gets her grandmother's permission to go out by herself to "Someplace Special" --a place far enough away to take the bus and to have to walk a bit. But this isn't just any trip. Tricia's trip takes place in the segregated South of the 1950s. That means Tricia faces sitting at the back of the bus, not being allowed to sit on a whites-only park bench, and being escorted out of a hotel lobby. She almost gives up, but a local woman who some say is "addled," but whom Tricia Ann knows to be gentle and wise, shows her how to listen to the voice inside herself that allows her to go on. She arrives at her special destination--the public library, whose sign reads "All Are Welcome." Pinkney's watercolor paintings are lush and sprawling as they evoke southern city streets and sidewalks as well as Tricia Ann's inner glow. In an author's note, McKissack lays out the autobiographical roots of the story and what she faced as a child growing up in Nashville. This book carries a strong message of pride and self-confidence as well as a pointed history lesson. It is also a beautiful tribute to the libraries that were ahead of their time. Category: Books for the Young--Fiction. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Anne Schwartz, $16. Ages 5-8. Starred Review
Chris Gill (Children's Literature)
Tricia Ann endures the indignities of segregation in the 1950s South, fortified with the love of her family and friends. As a Negro, she must sit at the back of the bus. Because of Jim Crow laws, she can only sit in the back of the balcony at the theater. When a crowd rushes into a plush downtown hotel following a celebrity, 'Tricia Ann is caught up in the throng--and then thrown out of the all-white establishment. She tolerates all of these insults because she is on her way to Someplace Special. That someplace is full of good things and it welcomes all people. That place is the Public Library. Based on McKissack's early life in Nashville, Tennessee, this is a story about how unfair life can be--and how love and persistence can triumph over injustice. Artwork is rendered in pencil and watercolor on paper by artist Jerry Pinkney, the only illustrator to have won the Coretta Scott King Award four times. 2001, Atheneum Books, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2002)
In a story based on Patricia McKissack's own childhood growing up in Nashville in the 1950s, a young African American girl repeatedly faces racial discrimination as she crosses her city by bus and by foot to reach the destination she calls "Someplace Special." 'Tricia Ann has certainly seen the Whites Only and Colored Section Jim Crow signs many times before, but she's always had Mama Frances with her. Making her first solo journey through the city, with her grandmother's permission, 'Tricia Ann is at times frightened and unsure. Luckily for this spirited young girl, she not only has a grandmother who has nurtured her with love and self-respect but also a community that cares. Other adults she meets remind 'Tricia Ann to "Carry yo'self proud," and to remember what her grandmother has taught her. When 'Tricia Ann completes her journey, readers learn that "Someplace Special" is the public library. In an author's note, McKissack explains that the downtown Nashville library was one of the few places in her childhood city that was integrated and had no Jim Crow signs. It was a place she felt welcome, and where she came to understand why "reading is the doorway to freedom." Jerry Pinkney's pencil and watercolor illustrations provide a richly detailed visual backdrop for McKissack's story. Honor Book, CCBC Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Discussion CCBC categories: Picture Books for Older Children; Historical People, Places, and Events. 2001, An Anne Schwartz Book / Atheneum, 32 pages, $16.00. Ages 5-9.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001 (Vol. 69, No. 18))
In a story that will endear itself to children's librarians and, for that matter, all library lovers, 'Tricia Ann begs her grandmother to be allowed to go alone to Someplace Special. Mama Frances acquiesces, sending her off with instructions: " 'And no matter what, hold yo' head up and act like you b'long to somebody.' " 'Tricia Ann's special place is not revealed until the end, but on the way there, the humiliating racism she encounters on the city bus, in the park, and in a downtown hotel almost causes her to give up. " 'Getting to Someplace Special isn't worth it,' she sobbed." When she recalls her grandmother's words: " 'You are somebody, a human being-no better, no worse than anybody else in this world,' " she regains the determination to continue her journey, in spite of blatant segregation and harsh Jim Crow laws. " Public Library: All Are Welcome" reads the sign above the front door of Someplace Special; Mama Frances calls it "a doorway to freedom." Every plot element contributes to the theme, leaving McKissack's autobiographical work open to charges of didacticism. But no one can argue with its main themes: segregation is bad, learning and libraries are good. Pinkney's trademark watercolors teem with realistically drawn people, lush city scenes, and a spunky main character whose turquoise dress, enlivened with yellow flowers and trim, jumps out of every picture. A lengthy author's endnote fills in the background for adults on McKissack's childhood experiences with the Nashville Public Library. This library quietly integrated all of its facilities in the late 1950s, and provided her with the story's inspiration. A natural for group sharing; leave plenty of time for the questions and discussion that are sure to follow. 2001, Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, $16.00. Category: Picture book. Ages 5 to 9. © 2001 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
McKissack draws from her childhood in Nashville for this instructive picture book. "I don't know if I'm ready to turn you loose in the world," Mama Frances tells her granddaughter when she asks if she can go by herself to "Someplace Special" (the destination remains unidentified until the end of the story). 'Tricia Ann does obtain permission, and begins a bittersweet journey downtown, her pride battered by the indignities of Jim Crow laws. She's ejected from a hotel lobby and snubbed as she walks by a movie theater ("Colored people can't come in the front door," she hears a girl explaining to her brother. "They got to go 'round back and sit up in the Buzzard's Roost"). She almost gives up, but, buoyed by the encouragement of adult acquaintances ("Carry yo'self proud," one of her grandmother's friends tells her from the Colored section on the bus), she finally arrives at Someplace Special—a place Mama Frances calls "a doorway to freedom"—the public library. An afterword explains McKissack's connection to the tale, and by putting such a personal face on segregation she makes its injustices painfully real for her audience. Pinkney's (previously paired with McKissack for
Fern Kory (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2001 (Vol. 55, No. 1))
Tricia Ann--an African-American preteen--feels she’s ready to go across town all by herself, but Mama Frances knows that her granddaughter’s journey through 1950s Nashville is likely to challenge ’Tricia Ann’s moral compass as much as her navigational ability. However, she lets the girl go with one last reminder--“hold yo’ head up and act like you b’long to somebody”--and with that ’Tricia Ann skips out of the idealized verdure of Jerry Pinkney’s impressionistic landscape into the sober reality of back-of-the-bus seating and whites-only park benches. The reader follows her turquoise yellow-flowered dress all the way to the mysterious “Someplace Special,” the increasing drabness of the people and surroundings thrown into relief by ’Tricia Ann’s vitality. The expressive narration and soft-focus illustrations of this forthrightly purposive picture book sometimes become oversweet, but there is a solid core of experiential detail in both the pencil sketches that underpin Pinkney’s watercolors and the social (and personal) history that undergirds McKissack’s story. And you’ll be especially glad to know that ’Tricia Ann’s “favorite spot in the world” turns out to be . . . the public library, which a brief afterword by McKissack says “was one of the few places where there were no Jim Crow signs and blacks were treated with some respect.” While a little lengthy for the youngest listeners, this shows the pervasiveness of segregation and celebrates the strength of mind of those who said to African-American children, “Don’t let those signs steal yo’ happiness.” Review Code: Ad -- Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 2001, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2001, Schwartz/Atheneum, 32p, $16.00. Ages 6-9 yrs.
Katherine Beecham (The Five Owls, (Vol. 16, No's. 2-4))
Tricia Ann has someplace special in her heart. The story is set in a small southern town, in the 1950s. At twelve years of age, 'Tricia Ann believes the time has finally come that she can make the journey alone to that special place. After convincing her grandmother, Mama Frances, and heeding a few last-minute warnings to "be particular, hold yo' head up, and act like you b'long to somebody," she is on her way. 'Tricia Ann's journey is filled with obstacles and the heartbreaking reality of "Jim Crow." First, 'Tricia Ann boards the bus and is forced to sit in the "colored section," in the back. As the bus fills, 'Tricia Ann gives up her seat to a friend of Mama Frances, though there are empty seats available just ahead of the Jim Crow sign. On reaching the Peace Fountain in the middle of town, 'Tricia Ann is overtaken with excitement, with the beauty of the fountain, only to be jolted back to reality when she sees the sign on a nearby bench that says: FOR WHITES ONLY. No matter that her grandfather was a stonemason who worked on the Peace Fountain. Next on the journey are Jimmy Lee, the street vendor, whose brother cooks in a restaurant across the way, where they cannot be served, and Mr. John Willis, a doorman at the Southland Hotel, who has a smile and a kind word for her. Suddenly, 'Tricia Ann finds herself caught up in a crowd outside the hotel that is awaiting a celebrity. As she is pushed and shoved in the midst of the crowd, she finds herself inside the hotel's grand lobby, where she is quickly pointed out and humiliated by the manager who announces, "No colored people are allowed!" Holding back tears, she retreats to the Mission Church ruins, wishing her grandmother were there to help her with her journey. Once again, 'Tricia is met with a word of encouragement, this time from Blooming Mary, who reminds her that she is not alone, but that if she listens carefully, she will hear her grandmother. Mama Frances' words ring in her ears, reminding her that "You are somebody, a human being--no better, no worse than anybody else in this world." 'Tricia's final encounter is in front of the Grand Music Palace, where a six-year-old boy asks if she would be coming into the theatre. His older sister reprimands him, bringing back the cold reminder that colored people could not enter through the front door, but only through the back, to sit in the Buzzard's Roost. Now 'Tricia Ann is determined to complete her journey, as she turns the corner, to see a wonderful sight, what Mama Frances called, the "doorway to freedom." No more anger, no more hurt or embarrassment. She has reached Someplace Special. Across the front of the building, the message read: PUBLIC LIBRARY: ALL ARE WELCOME. This poignant story is reminiscent of the author's childhood, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the 1950s. While the events are fictionalized, they serve to teach history to our children and promote discussion about society today. Jim Crow laws have been stricken down, but the spirit and attitude of those laws unfortunately still exist in some places, causing the pain and frustration that leave the emotional scars for life, yet the words of encouragement continue. Some of our predecessors also had the world opened up to them, through books in "Somplace Special"--the public library. Beautiful illustrations are provided by Jerry Pinkney. 2001, Atheneum, 32 pages, $16.00. Ages 8 to 12.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.M478693 Go 2001
0689818858 (alk. paper)|