Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Jerome Lagarrigue
Published: Puffin Books 2007
Pages: 32
Tags: Family, Culture, Realistic Fiction, historical Fiction, picture book, k-5, Race, Carole Boston Weatherford
Genre: Realistic Fiction

The story follows a brief time period in Connie’s childhood during the civil rights movement. Connie wonders why she is not allowed to be served at a lunch counter and one day witnesses a group of Black men doing a sit in at the same lunch counter. As time goes on and sit-ins and protests sweep the nation Connie finds herself surrounded by activism from the people in her life. After getting news that the lunch counter was serving Blacks, she went and finally got her banana split.
The story serves as a picture book way to introduce the idea of racism and the civil rights movement to children. The Greensboro Sit-Ins were a key part in the growth of the civil rights movement and should be discussed. The use of a child’s point of view makes it an easier read for the children who might be looking to learn about the way society once was and how peaceful protests took place to fix it. The book also serves as a nice tool for parents looking to educate their children on the times. The use of no names for the rest of Connie’s family makes it where the reader can see their family reflected in each of the characters. This allows for the roles each character plays to represent any one of the young people that courageously joined the movement. At one point even Connie wants to join but could not. This reflects the call to action many felt during the time and allows readers to feel it as well. The ideology being communicated is one of praise for the non-violent protests and discontent with the times. This is communicated best through the child who just wants her banana split and cannot figure out what is preventing this. I feel like the banana split symbolizes the freedom that she wanted and eventually got.
The use of illustrations add to the text. The paintings follow closely with the story. As the mood of the story shifts from unsettling to content, the illustrations go from dull to vibrant. The use of blurred looking oil paintings give an older, flash-back feel to the pictures. This allows for readers to feel that the time period is becoming a distant memory, but is very real. In the part of the book before the sit ins, the pictures feel cold and uninviting but once the protests begin you can feel the colors coming to life leading up to the vibrant banana split at the end.

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