Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Oct. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062967404.
Gr 3-6–Velasquez grabs readers right from the start with a book jacket saturated with color and details of a 1940s family ready to leave on a trip in their blue Packard, against the signature color of the Green Book. It’s followed by an equally inviting title page. Bolden opens her story with an introduction to Victor Hugo Green, New Jersey letter carrier. He takes his job seriously, and he believes in tackling problems with solutions. It’s the Great Depression and even though times are tough, people want to travel. Black Americans are traveling for business, vacation, family events, and special occasions, encouraged to purchase cars to avoid the hardships and dangers of Jim Crow laws and sundown towns. Green sees a need for better communication to help travelers stay safe, doing extensive research. His first effort is “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a pamphlet published in 1936, with information for safe travel in and around New York City. By 1940, the booklet is 40 pages long and includes major cities in every state. Bolden has perfectly combined the painful story of Jim Crow and segregation with the strength and determination of Black Americans to live a full life. The illustrations are combined with recreated newspaper articles, actual Green Book covers, and photographs. The effect is to pull readers along on this American experience known too well to some and a revelation for others. A time line, notes, selected sources, and specific resources are appended.
VERDICT A highly recommended addition to any collection. Pair this book with Alexander Clavin’s Ruth and the Green Book for a real powerhouse introduction to this important part of our shared history.

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