When the Schools Shut Down: A Young Girl’s Story of Virginia’s “Lost Generation” and the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Decision

Yolanda Gladden, as told to Tamara Pizzoli, illus. by Keisha Morris. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-301116-8
Acknowledging the importance of oral history in African diasporic traditions, this nonfiction account by Gladden (b. 1954), transcribed by Pizzoli, offers an engaging, community care–centered examination of segregation in the Virginia school system before and after Brown v. Board of Education. Four years after the decision was handed down, when Gladden was to begin school, officials closed every public school in her county to avoid integrating the institutions. The community reacted by creating its own schools. Pizzoli’s rhythmic prose drives the narrative forward: “When Yolanda’s mama and Aunt Dorothy graduated from high school in 1953, the conditions of public schools in Prince Edward County were still separate, still unequal, and still unfair.” Collaged tissue paper and digital media art by Morris offers a lushly layered backdrop to the events, emphasizing the expressions and closeness of the Black community portrayed in this informative, warmly personable autobiography. Back matter features notes from the authors, a timeline of desegregation of the American school system, and sources and further reading. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2021
Release date: 01/11/2022
Genre: Children's
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