SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL
Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014
Picture Book Nonfiction
Grades 1 and up
Source: school library
All opinions expressed are solely my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
I appreciated the fact that this book addresses an historical event that is not very well known. We need more books that look at the experiences of a variety of different backgrounds. This book is very well put together. The design is fresh and appealing. The text is informative with being didactic. I found the inclusion of actual testimony fascinating. The other thing I really liked was that the story shows that simply winning the case doesn’t ‘fix’ everything. Even after being allowed into the white school, Sylvia faced harsh treatment from the other students. Winning in court does not mean attitudes have changed. Sometimes it takes time for attitudes to change as sad as that is, people’s beliefs don’t adjust overnight. Thanks to the urging of her mother, Sylvia found the courage to go back and by doing so she helped change the world. The notes and back along with the glossary, index, and bibliography provide a great deal of extra information for those who want to know more. An important story well-told and beautifully illustrated making for a winner of a book all around.