Cover image for Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer
Wiles, Deborah.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
In 1964, Joe is pleased that a new law will allow his best friend John Henry, who is colored, to share the town pool and other public places with him, but he is dismayed to find that prejudice still exists.
Reading Level:
AD 460 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 46086.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.7 2 Quiz: 24503 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
He crawls like a catfish,
blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
but he doesn't swim in the town pool with me.
He's not allowed.
Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim.
But there's one important way they're different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn't allowed to do everything his best friend is.
Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there...only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people's hearts.
This stirring account of the "Freedom Summer" that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys' experience with racism and their friendship that defies it.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. "John Henry Waddell is my best friend," begins the narrator of this story, set during a summer of desegregation in the South. John Henry is black and the narrator is white, so the boys swim together at the creek, rather than at the whites-only town pool, and the narrator buys the ice-cream at the segregated store. When new laws mandate that the pool, and everything else, must desegregate, the boys rejoice, until the town fills the pool with tar in protest and the narrator tries to see this town, "through John Henry's eyes." The boy's voice, presented in punchy, almost poetic sentences, feels overly romanticized, even contrived in places. It's the illustrations that stun. In vibrantly colored, broad strokes, Lagarrigue, who illustrated Nikki Grimes' My Man Blue (1999), paints riveting portraits of the boys, particularly of John Henry, that greatly increase the story's emotional power. Beautiful work by an illustrator to watch. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Set in Mississippi during the summer of 1964, this affecting debut book about two boys-one white, the other African-American-underscores the bittersweet aftermath of the passage of the Civil Rights Act," wrote PW. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved