One kid learns a lesson on how dangerous making assumptions can be.
Marvin hates shopping, but Mama takes him to the new Rich’s department store for new pants. After Marvin tries on “everything in the store,” they finally go to the grill inside Rich’s for lunch. But sitting at the lunch counter is for “whites only,” and an older white man reminds Marvin of this when the boy tries out the shiny red swivel stools. But Mama says change is coming. When the family gets the opportunity to help usher in the change, the kids participate too. Since the city won’t allow black citizens to picket in front of Rich’s, they organize a pray-in instead. During this momentous event, Marvin realizes that blacks are not fighting for civil rights alone. This epiphany changes his life. Based on an incident in the childhood of co-author James “Sparky” Rucker, this story takes place in Knoxville, Tennessee. Since so many children’s stories about the movement take place in Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi, this one will help to broaden young readers’ understanding of its geographical reach. Nicol’s illustrations, with deep, rich colors, capture well the determination of the black citizens and the stress that comes with breaking through racial barriers.
A fine picture book to sit on the shelf alongside Ruby Bridges’ Through My Eyes (1999) and Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier’s Martin’s Big Words (2001). (Picture book. 4-8)