As an African-American growing up in Nashville, TN, in the 1950's, Tricia Ann has not ventured outside her small community alone.
When she asks permission to go by herself to 'Someplace Special', Mama Frances hesitates but gives in reminding Tricia
Ann to "hold yo head up and act like you b'long to somebody".
Her journey downtown reveals the segregation and racial inequality pervasive in everyday lives of African-Americans. Tricia Ann is forced to sit in the "Colored Section" on the bus and she hops up from
a park bench when she notices the "Whites Only" sign. She endures anger and public
glare when she inadvertently steps into the lobby of a grand hotel. She arrives
at her special destination, dignity intact. Carved in stone above the doorway
are the words, "The Public Library: All Are Welcome".
Mr. Pinkney's powerful, full page, watercolor and pencil illustrations are integral to understanding the emotions running
through this beautiful picture book. The reader glimpses intimidation, pride,
and finally determination on Tricia Anns' face as she faces the injustice of racism.
The anger on the white faces as the little girl is caught in the hotel lobby and the look of entitlement on the faces
of the white bus riders, gives a sense of what this must have felt like to be black at that time and place. Fin-tailed vehicles and clothing add to the 50's scenario.
At the end of the story, the author notes that this is her story, having grown up in Nashville.
She has painted a picture of everyday bigotry surrounding African-Americans in 1950 Tennessee. McKissack says she "had been fortified with enough love, respect, and pride to overcome any situation I
encountered". Through story, believable dialog, and illustration,
this book conveys a realistic picture of what blacks endured in the not so distant past. The reader is left with
an uplifting message, to hold ones head up and "just keep walking straight ahead-and you'll make it".