In these lushly illustrated watercolor and collage images, Ransome effectively captures the boys’ kinship amid the senseless, racist Jim Crow laws that separate them. The bucolic landscape outside the train’s windows sharply conflicts with the train conductor’s removal of Michael from the White car. Backmatter addresses the laws that created this unjust travel condition, beginning in 1887 with the Interstate Commerce Act...Painful history portrayed honestly and beautifully to help children understand the very personal impact of racism.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Ransome’s watercolor scenes balance the details of train travel that so excited the characters (and will doubtless intrigue even a current Amtrak audience), with understated tracking of the boys’ unfolding friendship...This is a good discussion starter for young listeners who may confront lines not of their making and mixed messages about crossing them.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books .
The team behind Granddaddy’s Turn introduces readers to the cruelty of U.S. segregation through the eyes of a child. Michael, the Black boy who narrates, is wide-eyed with anticipation when he learns that he and his grandmother are taking the train from Alabama to visit family in Ohio. From the “Colored Only” train car where they sit, his first sight of Atlanta thrills him: “I had never seen so many different kinds of people all in the same place.” There, the conductor takes down the “Colored Only” sign, and Michael is free to explore. “Hi, I’m Bobby Ray,” says a white boy his age; they wander the train, then return to Bobby Ray’s seat, where they play with toy soldiers, talk, and Bobby Ray begins to draw. When the train enters Tennessee, a segregated state, the conductor whisks Michael back to the “Colored Only” car, and Bobby Ray is lost to him. The only evidence Michael has of their short friendship is his drawing: “white folk sitting next to black folk in the same train car.” Vivid, tightly focused watercolor portraits by Ransome straightforwardly convey the racist policy’s effect on two children, and Bandy and Stein let Michael draw his own thoughtful conclusions in this narrative: “It just didn’t make any sense at all.” Ages 6–9. (Oct.)
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Five years after Michael S. Bandy, Eric Stein and James E. Ransome collaborated on “Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box,” they’ve come together again to show how Bandy’s first train ride in the early 1960s from Alabama to Ohio opened his eyes to the unfair barriers created by segregation. Through Ransome’s detailed and richly expressive watercolors of the lush fields and “glittery” cityscapes the passengers see as day turns into night, readers hear the chug of the train and feel its rumblings under their feet as Michael sets out to explore, only to be halted by a “WHITES ONLY” sign separating him and the other Black passengers from the rest of the train’s offerings. Bandy and Stein give an intimate and affecting account of how segregation plays out in the everyday lives of two new friends — one Black, one white — who find companionship when the signs between cars come down as the train reaches Atlanta. Soon they’re able to discover a dining car, sleeping nooks and each other, all because a city has “some different rules from home.” Back up go the signs when they hit Chattanooga, and back down when they get to Cincinnati. Filled with touching slivers of a budding friendship — sharing plastic green soldiers and even “battle” scars — “Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation” skillfully depicts how even the subtlest aspects of division cannot stand in the way of hope, goodness and friendship.
—The New York Times
NORTHBOUND: A TRAIN RIDE OUT OF SEGREGATION. Text copyright © 2020 by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by James E. Ransome. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
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