White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein

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White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Candlewick, August 2011) is based on a true story from the childhood of one of the authors in the Jim Crow South. One afternoon, two boys, one white and one African-American, got off a bus and ran for the drinking fountain. As they both drank from their designated drinking fountains, the black boy wondered what the water from the white drinking fountain tasted like. He found a way to come back to the drinking fountains and try the white water, only to discover it tasted the same as the water from the “colored” drinking fountain: the two drinking fountains were connected by the same pipe.

The illustrations are done in watercolor and ink; my favorite spread is that in which the boy ran for the drinking fountain and the illustration shows his toy soldiers keeping cover for him. The story as a whole captured the frustration the child must have felt. It is told from the child’s point of view, thus helping the kids relate to the era and frustration. 

White Water also gives important insight into history, especially why the Civil Rights Movement was so necessary. Although I think White Water is geared toward older children, my four-year-old son’s comment after reading this book proved to me that even young children can grasp the message of equality. He said, “I liked the part when he figured out the water was the same.”

Reviewed on November 15, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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