A young boy helps raise money to bring an elephant to his town, but will he get to touch it like the other children do?
Frank can’t wait to welcome Miss Fancy to her new home in nearby Avondale Park. But a sign stops him: “No Colored Allowed.” He climbs a tree and tosses peanuts to Miss Fancy, but it isn’t close enough. He can’t bring himself to break the law by entering the park. He asks the Rev. Brooks what he can do. They decide to write a letter asking the city to allow their congregation to have a Sunday picnic at the park. They get plenty of signatures, and their request is approved, but then the Rev. Brooks brings the sad news to Frank that they won’t have the picnic after all, because “ ‘there could be trouble.’…‘Trouble’ meant black people could be hurt or worse.” Finally, Frank ingeniously finds a way to lead Miss Fancy out of the park and then back. For returning her, he is rewarded with his dream. Readers will feel for Frank from the first page; his singular goal is a brilliant vehicle for making the injustice of segregation concrete for young readers while telling an interesting story based on historical events (as described in an author’s note). Holyfield’s skillful artwork uses complex color blends, light, and shadow with stylized form to create memorable characters and scenes. Unfortunately, while the upbeat ending is good for Frank, it elides the decades of Jim Crow that followed the events of the story.
Quality storytelling and beautiful art allow a likable protagonist to shine. (Picture book. 4-8)