cover image Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation

Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation

Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illus. by James E. Ransome. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9650-4

The team behind Granddaddy’s Turn introduces readers to the cruelty of U.S. segregation through the eyes of a child. Michael, the Black boy who narrates, is wide-eyed with anticipation when he learns that he and his grandmother are taking the train from Alabama to visit family in Ohio. From the “Colored Only” train car where they sit, his first sight of Atlanta thrills him: “I had never seen so many different kinds of people all in the same place.” There, the conductor takes down the “Colored Only” sign, and Michael is free to explore. “Hi, I’m Bobby Ray,” says a white boy his age; they wander the train, then return to Bobby Ray’s seat, where they play with toy soldiers, talk, and Bobby Ray begins to draw. When the train enters Tennessee, a segregated state, the conductor whisks Michael back to the “Colored Only” car, and Bobby Ray is lost to him. The only evidence Michael has of their short friendship is his drawing: “white folk sitting next to black folk in the same train car.” Vivid, tightly focused watercolor portraits by Ransome straightforwardly convey the racist policy’s effect on two children, and Bandy and Stein let Michael draw his own thoughtful conclusions in this narrative: “It just didn’t make any sense at all.” Ages 6–9. [em](Oct.) [/em]