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 defies it. A picture book for all ages.
Praise for Freedom Summer:
"A quite 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
“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
Awards for Freedom Summer:
Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe new talent award for Jerome Lagarrigue
Ezra Jack Keats / New York Public Library award, best new picture book writer of the year, and best new illustrator, 2002.
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
- 6, 7, 5
- Interest Level
- Grades K - 2
- Grade Level Equivalent
- Lexile Measure
- Guided Reading
- Atheneum Books
- Number of Pages
- Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction