The Friendship by Mildred D.Taylor
Taylor, Mildred D. The Friendship. Penguin Group, Inc., 1987. 56 pages. Tr. $16.99. ISBN
Annotation: In 1933 in the state of Mississippi, some black children witness a violent confrontation between an elderly black man, Mr. Tom Bee and a white storeowner. Mr. Tom Bee learns the hard way that kindness and friendship do not always have power over racism in the South.
Summary: The year is 1933 and the setting is rural Mississippi. Cassie Logan and her brothers go to the store for some medicine. While there they see a confrontation between Mr. Tom Bee, an elderly black man and a white store owner, John Wallace. The friendship between the men is put to the test against a background of racism and civil rights. Mr. Bee addresses the store owner, John, by his first name, which is forbidden to do by blacks. Mr. Bee had saved John’s life on a number of occasions and had even cared for him like a son in his own home. John had given Tom Bee previous permission to call him by his first name. But under pressure and taunting from other white men in his store, John reneges on his promise and shoots Tom in the leg as punishment for such unacceptable behavior.
Evaluation: This book is based on an actual event. Mildred Taylor wrote this story based on family stories that were handed down to her from her father. The simply written but powerful story of paints a clear picture of the tragedy of prejudice and racism in the United States in the 21st century. Children will marvel at the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe despite the social norms of the time. Recommended for ages 7 to 14.
Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Historical, Racism, African Americans, Violence, Friendship
Awards: 1988 Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 1988 Boston Globe-Horn Award Winner- Fiction