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GOING NORTH by Janice N. Harrington Kirkus Star


by Janice N. Harrington & illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-32681-9
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Any child who has ever faced the upheaval of a cross-country move will relate to this gorgeous, autobiographical picture-book poem about an African-American family that moves north from Alabama to Nebraska in 1964. The girl protagonist doesn’t want to go—she wants to stay with Big Mama and peel sweet potatoes: “But Going-North Day hurries to our door / like it’s tired of our slowpokey ways.” As the yellow station wagon heads north (a journey mapped on the endpapers), the girl watches the world go by, thoughts echoing the rhythms of the road: “good <\b>/ bye / good <\b>/ bye / good <\b>/ bye.” The family almost runs out of gas because the segregated stations won’t serve them, but the African-American–owned Joe’s Gas pulls through, and the girl thinks maybe the North will be better “may / be / may / be / may / be.” The impressionistic, color-rich paintings are as warm and expressive as the lyrical story, a nighttime view of the car’s headlights and taillights cutting the midnight-blue darkness is as stunning as the full-bleed, double-page spread of big sky and cotton fields. (Picture book. 3-6)