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[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Fictionalized Retelling of Patricia McKissack’s True Story in “Goin’ Someplace Special”


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

I am cheating a little bit in this story as it is a fictionalized retelling of Patricia McKissack’s true story of what it was like growing up in the South in the 50s. However, given our reading theme, I just felt that it was too good a book not to feature for today.

Goin’ Someplace Special

Written by: Patricia C. McKissack Illustrated by: Jerry Pinkney
Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001
ISBN-10: 0689818858 (ISBN13: 9780689818851) Literary Award: Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator (2002)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

‘Tricia Ann was practically begging her grandmother, Mama Frances to travel on her own to “Someplace Special,” her absolute favourite place in the world.

While initially hesitant, Mama Frances gave her blessing with the injunction that ‘Tricia Ann must “hold yo’ head up and act like you b’long to somebody.” While the setting of this story is in the 1950s, it resonates even up to the present time, providing further proof of how people seem doomed to commit the same mistakes repeatedly.

In the Author’s Note, Patricia McKissack noted that:

This is my story. Although the setting has been fictionalized, the events are taken from my own childhood growing up in Nashville, Tennessee…

… Most African American parents waited until their children were mature enough to cope with segregation before allowing them to venture outside their communities alone. I was almost twelve when my parents trusted me to make the trek to the library by myself.

It is positively chilling how there are some people now in the United States who actually wish to go back to this period in history. Patricia McKissack went on to say:

But like ‘Tricia Ann, I had been fortified with enough love, respect, and pride to overcome any situation I encountered. 

Indeed, this is a story that speaks of courage despite bigotry, persistence amidst blatant discrimination, and finding refuge inside the walls of the one place that welcomed all.

I truly believe that the library is more than just a place for learning; it is a place of hope, a sanctuary, a sacred space where one can find one’s self. How fortunate we all are that Patricia McKissack found “someplace special” and today we are given the gift of her words. – to remind us that we should make our spaces safe for more young girls like ‘Tricia Ann.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

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