The Friendship
illustrated by Max Ginsburg
published in 1998

Details

Appropriate age:
Older Kid (age 8-11)
Reading level:
Grade 4
Genre: Fiction
Cultures: Americas, United States, African American
Subjects: Friendship, Racism, Social Issues, Values

Description

It's hot and humid in 1933 Mississippi, when an elderly black man and a white store owner test their friendship against a backdrop of racism and peer pressure. An explosive confrontation takes place when the black man, Tom Bee, greets the clerk, John Wallace, by his first name--an intimacy unheard of at the time. A group of witnesses heckles Wallace for what they perceive as his permissiveness, and in spite of his private promise to Bee to allow him to greet him this way, Wallace betrays Bee, shooting him in the leg. This brief but poignant story won the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award. It provides strong characterization as well as food for discussion on racism and human relations.