A Friendship for Today

by Patricia C. McKissack

Rosemary Patterson is worried about attending the formerly all-white Robertson Elementary... read more

Rosemary Patterson is worried about attending the formerly all-white Robertson Elementary School. Her anxiety is compounded when polio leaves her best friend fighting for his life and Rosemary the lone black student in her sixth-grade class. A terrific teacher helps Rosemary and her classmates, some of whom are more welcoming than others, with the difficult transition to desegregation, even as an administrator seems determined to undermine Rosemary’s efforts to succeed. But the most surprising outcome of the huge social change is the friendship Rosemary forms with Grace Hamilton, a white girl in her neighborhood who has always been unfriendly, and at time downright mean. Both girls are outsiders at school—Rosemary because she is black, Grace because she is poor. But they find they have more than their outsider status in common as each navigates difficult family situations. Rosemary is struggling with her parents’ separation, and Grace’s racist, sometimes violent father casts a shadow in her life. Patricia McKissack’s evenhanded novel set in 1954 Missouri deftly juggles big themes while keeping her story firmly grounded in the experiences of a girl who discovers that she has support in both expected and unexpected places to navigate the changes in her family and in the larger world. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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