Coretta Scott King Award–winner Pinkney provides an outstanding contribution to the Dear America series with the diary of the (fictional) first African-American student to integrate the segregated schools of Hadley, Va.
Pinkney paints a vivid picture of a bright 12-year-old who is athletic, fun-loving and full of dreams. She admires Jackie Robinson and is fiercely protective of her autistic younger brother. Shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision is handed down, Dawnie Rae is selected as one of three African-American children who will integrate the Prettyman Coburn school. True to the series’ format, the fictional diary entries, chronicle the both events of the primary story arc and fill in telling details of the time and place. Today’s readers may well be stunned when Dawnie Rae’s Mama and Daddy bluntly tell her the family doesn't have enough money to buy a television, and she goes on to muse about the buying power of the 1954 nickel. While many contemporary accounts of the Civil Rights movement focus on the courage, integrity and character of those who pioneered the struggle, Pinkney does a commendable job imagining both the setting and the inner emotions that ordinary children might have wrestled with as they stepped into history.
A solid entry in an ever-popular series. (historical note, photographs, biographical notes, time line) (Historical fiction. 8-14)