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GOIN’ SOMEPLACE SPECIAL by Patricia C. McKissack

GOIN’ SOMEPLACE SPECIAL

By Patricia C. McKissack (Author) , Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-81885-8
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

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. (Picture book. 5-9)