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VISITING DAY by Jacqueline Woodson


by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by James E. Ransome

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-590-40005-3
Publisher: Scholastic

A little girl and her grandmother wake early to prepare for the trip to visit the girl’s father. There are smiles of excited anticipation as Grandma fries chicken and braids the little girl’s hair before they catch the bus. The bus ride has a festive air as the riders share lunch. Finally, they arrive at the prison where Daddy waits eagerly to see his daughter and mother. Once home, Grandma reassures the girl that “one day we’ll be able to wake up and have Daddy right there in our house again.” Ransome’s (Quilt Counting, p. 951, etc.) lovely, bold acrylic paintings depict the girl and her grandmother in a neat, well-ordered, well-cared-for environment—even the scenes in the prison are cheery and bright and imply that the inmates are not violent offenders. Woodson (Our Gracie Aunt, not reviewed, etc.) and Ransome accomplish the goal of representing a loving family holding up admirably in the face of adversity. Nevertheless, for some it may be difficult not to wonder what Daddy did to land in prison. The girl’s family may love each other unconditionally (as the jacket copy states), but it is a more difficult job for the reader whose questions about Daddy go unanswered. That all the prison inmates but one are black, as are all the visitors, while the prison guard is white raises another set of questions. Although this reflects a reality about disproportionate incarceration rates for African-American men, does it also perpetuate stereotypes? Overall, a sensitive approach to a difficult issue that will certainly provoke discussion. (author and illustrator notes) (Picture book. 5-8)