Name of Book: Goin’ Someplace Special
Author: Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
Publisher: Antheneum Books
Audience: Ages: 6 – 12
Summary: Patricia C. McKissack recounts her own story of growing up in racially segregated Nashville, Tennessee during the 1950’s. Goin’ Someplace Special follows a girl named Tricia Ann as she leaves the protective comfort of her grandmother, Mama Frances, to take a big step. She is going downtown alone, to Someplace Special.
In Goin’ Someplace Special we see the world of Jim Crow through Tricia Ann’s eyes. There are signs on the bus that say “Colored Section,” the bench by the Peace Fountain reads, “For Whites Only” and the Southland Hotel’s grand lobby where Tricia Ann wanders in by mistake, only to be yelled at and put out by the manager. The journey is frightening for Tricia Ann but throughout she is supported by friends and neighbors. On the bus, Mrs. Gannell tells her, “Carry yo’self proud.” Jimmy Lee, a street vendor, helps keep her spirits up. “Don’t let those signs steal yo’ happiness,” he tells her. In the end, Tricia Ann reaches her destination and it is only then that the reader learns that Someplace Special is the Nashville Public Library; a place where all people are welcomed.
Literary elements at work in the story: The text and illustrations work beautifully together to tell a straightforward story with emotional depth and a strong message. The author speaks clearly through the story to kids about the pride of growing up, the fear and sadness of facing prejudice, and the comfort of finding safe, special places in this world. Because kids will be able to relate to how Trisha Ann is feeling, they will begin to understand just how hurtful discrimination can be and how wonderful it is that we have safe places, like libraries, where everyone is welcome.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic ability: This would be a great book for generating discussion on racism from either a historical, sociological, or theological perspective for a variety of age groups.
Theological conversation partners: Genesis 1:26-27,Galatians 3:26-29,
Faith Talk Questions:
1. How do you think Tricia Ann felt as she started off on her adventure alone?
2. What made her and her grandmother think that she is ready for this trip alone?
3. Why did she have to sit on the back of the bus?
4. Why couldn’t she sit on the park bench?
5. How do you think those experiences made her feel?
6. Why did she call the library Someplace Special?
7. Do you have a special place that you go to?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Susan Wills
Goin’ Someplace Special by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.