The Great Migration: Journey to the North

Eloise Greenfield, illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, HarperCollins/Amistad, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-125921-0
Frequent collaborators Greenfield and Gilchrist (Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems) shape an evocative portrait of African-Americans who moved North during the Great Migration between 1915 and 1930 to escape Ku Klux Klan–fueled racism and to secure better lives. In forceful free verse, travelers bid farewell to what they've known. One man is conflicted about leaving his rural home ("Saying goodbye to the land puts a pain on my heart"), a woman can't wait to get away ("Goodbye, crazy signs, telling me where I can go, what I can do"), and a girl prepares to leave her mother ("I'm a little scared. I'm a lot scared. Off to the big city by myself, with just the church up there to lean on"). Chronicling the journey by train, lilting poetry and pictures capture a sense of both apprehension and hope: "Going to make it. No matter what." Making intriguing use of photographs of people, news headlines, maps, and painted elements, each of Gilchrist's collages has a distinctive look and lighting, ranging from conventional portraits of the travelers to more abstract images. Ages 3–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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