White Socks Only (1996), written by Evelyn Coleman and illustrated by Tyrone Geter, was one of my purchases from the AEMP training.
When I first saw it, I thought the cover was cute, but thought the title was a little odd. White Socks Only? What does that mean? However, one look at the front cover and you could pretty much tell what it was about.
Since the front cover was very inviting, I decided to open it up and see what the inside held. So, I opened it up and read. I’m happy to say that I was quite pleased with the content as well.
The book begins with the main character asking her grandmother if she can go to town by herself. Her grandmother tells her that she can go to town by herself when she can do some good.
Readers are then treated to a flashback of the grandmother’s when she decided to go to town by herself. She wanted to see if it was true that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk when it’s hot. So, she dresses in her Sunday best- her white Sunday school dress, her white socks and her shiny black dress shoes- and sneaks into town by herself. Of course she can’t leave without the eggs. So, after she’s finished dressing up in her Sunday best, she puts an egg in her pockets on either side of her.
On her way to town she passes a cast of characters, some of whom her grandmother has warned her about; most notably Chicken Man. Some say that he practices black magic; that he turns folks into chickens if what they’re doing isn’t right. She didn’t want him to think that she’s doing anything wrong, so she started walking faster, with her arms held out, so as not to break the eggs.
When she gets to town she has to hide from her mama’s friend Miss Nancy, who tells her mama everything. She hides behind a tree. However, in the process she breaks one of the eggs, which messes up her white dress and runs down her leg; making her a sticky mess.
However, she’s determined she’s going to complete her mission. So, she goes right over to the statue of the horse and cracks her remaining egg right on the horse’s leg, and spills its contents on the concrete. That’s when she sees it start to cook. She jumps up & down happy that she’s completed her mission. Now, she’s ready to go back home. She’s accomplished what she set out to do. But she has a problem. She’s sticky and thirsty. She needs a drink of water. She steps right up to the fountain that says “Whites only”. Well, since she has on white socks, she knows that she has to remove her shoes to take a drink. She’s not silly, after all. So, she removes her shoes and steps up to the platform to take a drink in her white socks. That’s when a big white man comes up to her and decides to teach her a lesson for drinking out of the “Whites Only” fountain. She’s confused. She doesn’t understand what’s going on. What is all the fuss about? Why is there a crowd gathered? Why is this strange man trying to whip her?
She cowers on the ground as he takes off his belt to whip her. What happens after that is something that shakes the whole town up. If you’d like to know what it happens, check it out at your local library or bookstore.
I read this book to my class, giving them a choice between this and another book, and they chose this one. I told them the book would take longer than five minutes to read, so I would read half after recess and save the other half for after lunch. However, once I tried to stop reading because time was getting short, they practically begged me to finish reading it. That should tell you how good the book is.
My class ranges from 2nd- 5th, so I’d say that’s a safe age range. I would even say that junior high school and high school students would enjoy having this book read to them in the right context, like Black History Month or some other project. Pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.