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Freedom Summer

Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

“A quiet but powerful introduction to the prejudice experienced by many Americans.” —Starred review, Kirkus Reviews

“Powerfully conveys the experience of racial prejudice by focusing on two particular boys and their real-live-boy feelings and behavior.” —Horn Book magazine

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe new talent award for Jerome Lagarrigue

Ezra Jack Keats/New York Public Library award, best new picturebook writer of the year, and best new illustrator, 2002.

From the book:

John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
He crawls like a catfish,
blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me.
He’s not allowed.

Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim.

But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is.

Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there . . .  only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

This stirring account of the “Freedom Summer” that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys’ experience with racism and their friendship that defied it.

Picture book, for all ages.


More Reviews

“Illustrations that stun.” —Booklist

“Wiles’s affecting debut children’s book about two boys—one white and the other African-American—underscores the bittersweet aftermath of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.” —Publishers Weekly


Simon Wiesenthal “Once Upon A World Award”

Junior Library Guild Selection

Notable Book in the field of Social Studies, National Council of the Social Studies

Oprah Winfrey Book Club for Kids Selection 
Children’s Literature Choice List

Nominated for the Georgia State Picturebook Award 2002

Nominated for the Florida State Reading Assn. Children’s Book Award 2002-2003

Nominated for the North Carolina Children’s Book award, junior book category 2004.

Nominated for the California Young Reader medal 2004-1005.

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