History also plays a role in Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins, Carole Boston Weatherford's poignant picture book on the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins that began on February 1, 1960. Graced by the art of award-winning illustrator Jerome Lagarrique, the story is told from the point of view of a fictitious young girl who sees these events through the actions of her older brother and sister. More than anything, Connie wants to sit at the lunch counter, swivel on the stool and dig into a luscious banana split. But she learns from her mother the boundaries set up in her North Carolina world: rules that proclaim whites only at water fountains, swimming pools, movie theaters, bathrooms and restaurants.
Through Connie's eyes, we see the role that young people played in breaking down these barriers, beginning when four college students sat at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro and asked to be served. Thanks to this and similar student-led sit-ins, on July 25, 1960, blacks were finally allowed to eat at the lunch counter. With its evocative art, child's-eye perspective and an informative author's note that includes a photo of the sit-in, Freedom on the Menu is an outstanding example of the kind of historical fiction that helps children better understand the past.
Deborah Hopkinson's newest book is Billy and the Rebel, a story for young readers inspired by a true incident at the Battle of Gettysburg. Copyright 2005 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
This account of the 1960 sit-ins at the segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, is told from the perspective of eight-year-old observer Connie. The text--full of detail and lively dialogue--moves along smartly and holds true to Connie's experience without sacrificing content or veracity. Somber, impressionistic oils lend the story dignity and weight. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #1
Two new picture books set in the civil rights-, protest-era South: one is romanticized idealism, the other child's-eye-view realism. Johnson's A Sweet Smell of Roses is a poetic evocation of a 1960s freedom march. The young black narrator and her little sister dash out of the house one morning and join a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the day -- listening to speeches, marching, enduring harassment from onlookers -- they smell roses. Then, singing freedom songs, the two skip home. The pervasive smell of roses is an effective metaphor for the scent of freedom in the air, and Johnson's poetic text is powerful. But in attempting to reflect a universal experience, the story becomes too generic, and the girls' blithely unchaperoned participation undercuts the tension and danger of the actual events. Velasquez's red-accented pencil illustrations capture the sweep and emotion of the march, although the girls' central role (they march in the front row with Dr. King) feels artificial. Much more successful is Weatherford's Freedom on the Menu, an account of the 1960 sit-ins at the segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, from the perspective of eight-year-old Connie. The text -- full of detail and lively dialogue -- moves along smartly, taking readers from the first protests to the eventual integration of the lunch counter. Connie, unlike her older siblings, is mostly an observer, but the author manages to hold true to her experience without sacrificing content or veracity. Humor occasionally lightens the mood, as when, after Brother has announced that he's joining the sit-ins, and Sister that she intends to picket downtown, Connie says, "I want to go, too.... I'm plenty big enough to hold a sign, and I know I can sit." Readers will cheer when Connie, so long denied a banana split at the lunch counter, is finally served one with "an extra cherry on a mound of whipped cream." Lagarrigue's somber, impressionistic oils lend the story dignity and weight. [Review covers these titles: A Sweet Smell of Roses and Freedom on the Menu.] Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 December #2
An ordinary African-American girl witnesses extraordinary events in this first-person account of the Greensboro sit-ins of 1960. Eight-year-old Connie lives in a segregated world where she can't use the same public drinking fountains, bathrooms, movie theatres, swimming pools, and lunch counters as whites. Then one day everything changes. Four African-American college boys stage a sit-in at the local Woolworth's lunch counter and Connie anxiously watches history unfold as her own brother and sister join the picketing and sit-ins and protest spreads throughout the South. A long six months later, Connie samples the sweet taste of freedom when she is served a banana split at the same lunch counter. Lagarrigue's somber, somewhat impressionistic paintings capture the dignity and gravity of the times. This quietly moving story pays tribute to the peaceful protesters who did indeed "overcome." (author's note) (Picture book. 5+) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - February 2006
If you want a story to tell children about the struggle for Civil Rights for all, this is just the ticket. The narrator is Connie, a young African-American girl who lives with her family in Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1950s. "All over town, signs told me and Mama where we could and couldn't go." Jerome Lagarrigue's beautiful paintings help her tell the story. Connie says everybody follows the rules except her aunt from New York. After hearing Martin Luther King speak, her older siblings join the NAACP, and Connie accompanies them to register others to vote. One day she and her mother see African-American college students sitting at the whites-only lunch counter. It's the real beginning of the activist movement in Greensboro, and soon hundreds join the sit-ins. While Connie's parents are very worried about her older siblings' activism, they are proud as well. By the end of the summer, the protesters are being served at lunch counters all over the South. I found this book moving as well as delightful. It includes an author's note with a photo of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in. Recommended. Anne Hanson, Library Media Specialist, Hoover Elementary School, North Mankato, Minnesota © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 January #1
Weatherford (Remember the Bridge) offers a fresh and affecting interpretation of a pivotal event in the civil rights movement. In 1960, four young black men sat down at a segregated Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth lunch counter and asked to be served, sparking a seven-month long protest in that city and inspiring sit-ins throughout the South. As a prelude, narrator Connie explains that she and her mother would often stop for a snack at the five-and-dime store, standing up as they sipped their sodas "because we weren't allowed to sit at the lunch counter." To bring the event home, Weatherford casts friends of Connie's older brother as the famous Greensboro Four, and later Connie's brother and sister also get involved in the protest. The author uses the wise voices of the girl's parents to address age-appropriate questions (e.g., when Connie says she would be too hungry to wait for hours at the lunch counter, as those four did, her father gently explains, "They didn't really want food.... They wanted to be allowed to get it, same as if they were white. To be treated fairly"). Lagarrigue's (My Man Blue) impressionistic paintings in what appear to be layers of oil paints, capture the story's considerable emotion: the protestors' determination, their opposers' disdain, and Connie's concern and ultimate joy as she, in the finale, digs into a banana split at the Woolworth lunch counter. Together, author and artist translate a complex issue into terms youngest readers can understand, in a resonant meshing of fact and fiction. Ages 5-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 April
K-Gr 4-Connie likes to shop downtown with her mother. When they feel tired and hot, they stop in at Woolworth's for a cool drink, but stand as they sip their sodas since African Americans aren't allowed to sit at the lunch counter. Weatherford tells the story from the girl's point of view and clearly captures a child's perspective. Connie wants to sit down and have a banana split, but she can't, and she grumbles that, "All over town, signs told Mama and me where we could and couldn't go." When her father says that Dr. King is coming to town, she asks, "Who's sick?" She watches as her brother and sister join the NAACP and participate in the Greensboro, NC, lunch counter sit-ins. Eventually, Connie and her siblings get to sit down at the counter and have that banana split. Lagarrigue's impressionistic paintings convey a sense of history as they depict the pervasive signs of a Jim Crow society. An author's note about the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins concludes the book, pointing out the role young African Americans played in the struggle for civil rights. This book will pair well with Angela Johnson's A Sweet Smell of Roses (S & S, 2005).-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.