Wednesday, July 6, 2011
WITH THE MIGHT OF ANGELS: THE DIARY OF DAWNIE RAE JOHNSON by Andrea Davis Pinkney
All Dawnie wants to do is play baseball and bounce on her pogo stick. She doesn't want to wear dresses or fancy shoes, but her mother insists sometimes. Her life in a little green house with her mother and father and her little brother Goober is a happy one.
It's near the end of the school year, and Dawnie gets some good news and some bad. She is thrilled to learn that she has the highest scores in the sixth grade. She is not so excited to hear that she is expected to give a speech at the Stepping Up ceremony that celebrates the sixth grade moving on to seventh grade and the middle school. A speech? Good grief! And her mother will no doubt expect her to wear a dress and fancy shoes.
Another bit of end of the year news involves not only Dawnie but also several of her classmates. They are being asked to take a test. It isn't exactly clear why, but the reason is soon revealed. Those who score high enough will be considered in the new integration of the all-white high school in Hadley, Virginia.
When desegregation is upheld by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, some of the white citizens of Hadley are out to fight against having black children attend their school. Dawnie and her classmates all score well on the special test, but only Dawnie's parents sign the consent form for her to attend the all-white school in the fall. They see it as not only a right she deserves but also a chance for her to improve her future through education.
Dawnie knows going to the white kids' school is going to be a big deal. There are things she is looking forward to and things that scare her to death. What she doesn't realize is that the teachers might not all accept her and that the whole thing might cost her father his job. It may change Dawnie's life and the lives of others forever, but it is not going to be easy.
WITH THE MIGHT OF ANGELS will let present-day readers learn about one young girl nearly fifty years ago who was brave enough to stand up for the rights of all students to receive an equal education. Through her diary, readers will get to know this young tomboy and her dreams for the future.