*Starred Review* Stone's (Odd One Out, 2018) heartwarming, character-centered, and humorous middle-grade debut is a sure-fire winner in this timely story about a boy retracing the South's segregationist past with his grandmother. Black middle-schooler and computer whiz William Scoob Lamar is looking forward to being grounded for the entirety of spring break when his grandmother, an octogenarian white woman, whisks him away in a brand-new Winnebago on a trip to retrace her history. The ways in which G'ma's days of old dovetail with the American civil rights movement do more than teach Scoob about the injustices of Jim Crow and the fight for equality; each stop provides clues to deciphering the mystery surrounding his grandfather's life in prison and estrangement from Scoob's father. Adding Scoob's wry conversational observations about the odyssey to maps and a Green Book, an essential travel guide for African Americans designed to help them find accommodations willing to admit them and avoid towns known for terrorizing Black people, contributes levity and realism to what could have been a topic too emotionally heavy for middle-grade readers. Instead, it explores an integral part of America's past through the lens of one family's journey to mutual understanding and eventual generational acceptance. An absolute firecracker of a book and a must-have for children's collections. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Part history lesson, part road trip, this notable middle grade debut by Stone (Jackpot) stars William "Scoob" Lamar, a biracial, black-presenting 12-year-old, as he heads off on a road trip with his beloved grandmother, G'ma, who is white. He mostly goes to escape a punishment from his father, but as the two make their way through the South, Scoob learns more about the grandfather whom he never met, the interracial couple's 1963 road trip, which G'ma aims to complete, and the ways in which the world has changed and remained the same. As they make their way toward Juarez, Mexico, Scoob begins to suspect that G'ma might be up to something more suspicious than recreating a vacation and becomes torn between contacting another adult and protecting his grandmother. This dual tour through pre– and post–civil rights movement America confronts the country's difficult past, including how fraught with danger travel was to the average black citizen, while raising questions about what progress should look like. A heartwarming, family-centered adventure that will leave readers guessing until the end. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rena Rossner, the Deborah Harris Agency. (Jan.)
Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 3–6— William Lamar is an 11-year-old black boy whose anger gets the better of him during an altercation with a school bully. Unfortunately for him, a teacher didn't witness the bully's behavior, so William is the one who gets in trouble. William is grounded and subjected to long-winded lectures about his responsibilities as a black boy. His previous involvement in a school cheating scandal doesn't help matters. William knows that people view his actions differently because he's black, but no one seems to want to listen to his side of the story. When his grandmother asks him to go on a road trip with her, William can't wait to leave the solitary confines of his house to hit the road. William and his grandmother use the Green Book, an old-school guide that black people, and interracial couples like his grandparents, used for safe travel in the civil rights days. As they travel deeper into the South, William learns more about his family and the painful secrets that inspired his grandmother's desire to take this journey. Stone has crafted a history lesson in road-trip form. The novel's pace and length make it an ideal choice for reluctant readers. VERDICT This lighthearted adventure story explores racial inequality and the complex nature of interracial relationships. This title is a good addition for school libraries seeking unconventional approaches to history.—Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
An 11-year-old boy confronts the realities of race relations, past and present, and his unconventional grandmother’s mysterious agenda during an unplanned Spring Break road trip through the once-segregated American South. By the award-winning author of Dear Martin. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present.
How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:
Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.
Fasten Your Seatbelt: G'ma's never conventional, so this trip won't be either.
Use the Green Book: G'ma's most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home.
What Not to Bring:
A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G'ma starts acting stranger than usual.
Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with this New York Times bestseller and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn't always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren't always what they seem--his G'ma included.
"Truly a delight." -Christopher Paul Curtis, author of Newbery Medal winner Bud, Not Buddy - (Random House, Inc.)