by Patricia C. McKissack
Scholastic Press Hardcover
Release Date: January 1, 2007
Available for purchase
Why did you choose this book? I was attracted to the cover and interested to learn the fictional city of Kirkland is actually a pseudonym for a city I know.
When did you read this book? July 2011
Who should read this book? middle grade readers and above, fans of recent American history
Here is a synopsis of ‘Friendship For Today' from Goodreads, where it rates 3.74 stars.
The year is 1954, in Kirkland, Missouri, and twelve-year-old Rosemary Patterson is about to make history. She is one of the first African American students to enter the white school in her town. Headstrong, and smart, Rosemary welcomes the challenge, but starting this new school gets more daunting when her best friend, is hospitalized for polio. Suddenly, Rosemary must face all the stares and whispers alone. But when the girl who has shown her the most cruelty becomes an unlikely confidante, Rosemary learns important truths about the power of friendship to overcome prejudice.
This is the fictionalized account of the author’s experience in the early days of school desegragation. The setting is Kirkland (or Kirkwood), Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, in the early 1950s. The Supreme Court has just ruled that segregation of schools is unconstitutional. Rosemary is a 12 year old African American student, about to enter the 6th grade. She loves her current school, friends, and teachers, and excels academically. She cannot understand why her school is closing and she is being sent away. Even more disappointing than changing schools is that fact that only she and her best friend, JJ, will be attending her new school. The other students will be sent to another school. Then, to make things worse, James contracts polio and will not be attending school after all, making Rosemary the only African American at the school. In addition, she is dealing with the disintegration of her parents marriage.
The book does an excellent job of illustrating 1950’s society and the segregation of blacks and whites. Children in the middle grades may have heard of this in theory, but really don’t understand what it was all about and why the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was significant. Rather than presenting ‘boring’ facts, this book actually sneaks the details out in a very entertaining and thought-provoking way. This would be an excellent addition to a middle grade classroom library!
My Rating: ★★★★ 4 Stars