Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yankee Girl Mary Ann Rodman

Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman It's 1964, Alice's father is an FBI agent. He has been reassigned to protect the rights of Black people who are registering to vote. The Moxley's will be moving from Chicago to Mississippi. I loved this book. Alice is doing her best to figure out Mississippi. Since her father is an FBI agent she is used to making friends quickly. Not this time though, everyone calls her Yankee girl. Alice's new school Parnell will have Black students for the first time. One of those students, Valerie will be in Alice's sixth grade class. On a daily basis Valerie is tormented by her classmates. Alice doesn't take part or speak up she just wants to fit in. I love that Alice and Valerie didn't become instant friends. At home Alice is always worried about her father's safety and the Klan. Yankee Girl isn't simply about integration or Alice trying to fit. Its also an excellent reflection on race relations of the south at that times. Yankee Girl was published in 2004, it came to my attention this year, after reading Mary Ann Rodman's interview for the Amy Bowllan's Writers Against Racism (W.A.R) series over at School Library Journal. Here is part of Rodman's answer to the first question.


In August 1964, when I was ten, my family moved from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi. My father was an FBI agent who was involved in the case of the three missing civil rights workers (aka: The "Mississippi Burning" Case). Until then, I had never had any significant contact with another race. Now I was suddenly thrust into a tumultuous world that was divided by race and class. Crossing racial lines was not just a radical social act; it could prove to be fatal. A thousand times a day, my fifth grade peers reminded me that African-Americans (they used the "n" word) were childish, dumb, not as "good" as white people, and a host of other condescending (at best) or insulting (at worst) characterizations.

1 comment:

Amy Bowllan said...

Mary Ann's candor was so refreshing. I haven't read her book yet, but it's definitely on my list. Thanks for the post.