White Water

Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illus. by Shadra Strickland. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3678-4
First-time authors Bandy and Stein draw on one of Bandy's childhood memories in this resonant story about a boy awakening to the injustices around him. In town with his grandmother, Michael drinks from the "colored" fountain, whose water "taste[s] like nasty, muddy, gritty yuck." Yet next to him, a boy at the whites-only fountain eagerly drinks, igniting Michael's curiosity ("Suddenly I just had to know what that white water tasted like"). Even ordinary things, when forbidden, can grip a child's imagination, and so it is with Michael, his obsession with "white water" producing several fantasy scenarios and eventually compelling him to sneak back to town, where he discovers that the water in both fountains tastes the same. Michael's determination and imaginativeness are evident in Strickland's (A Place Where Hurricanes Happen) pale mixed-media paintings, which make excellent use of outlines to portray the boy's imaginings, such as a snow-capped mountain range seen under the arc of water in the "white" fountain. If the all-consuming nature of Michael's fascination occasionally feels excessive, the strength of the book's imagery, as well as Michael's epiphany, amply compensate. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-0-7636-7945-3
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