cover image Mayfield Crossing

Mayfield Crossing

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.95 (88pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22331-0

Fourth-grader Meg experiences prejudice for the first time after the Mayfield Crossing schoolhouse is closed and she is forced to attend Parkview, previously all-white. Ostracized and taunted because she is black, Meg begins to empathize more with another victim of cruelty, ``Old Hairy,'' the town eccentric. Urged by her parents to ``give people a chance,'' Meg acts kinder to Old Hairy and manages to keep her temper in check at school--until she is falsely accused of cheating. Those unfamiliar with problems of integration during the pre-civil rights era may be shocked by the open hatred and racial slurs--``pickaninny,'' ``tar baby,''--directed at the protagonist; however, incidents of bigotry are skillfully balanced with moments of compassion and understanding. Stressing that prejudice is chiefly the product of ignorance, Nelson demonstrates the importance of family values and the power of nonviolent resolutions. Well-written and timely. Illustrations not seen by PW . Ages 8-12. (Jan.)