Review of Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book

Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book
by Tonya Bolden; illus. by Eric Velasquez
Primary, Intermediate    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    40 pp.    g
10/22    978-0-06-296740-4    $17.99

Victor Hugo Green (1892–1960) was a mail carrier whose work took him all across New Jersey. Though well-loved on his routes, Green knew the danger he faced as a Black man anytime he went somewhere unfamiliar. This prompted the energetic Green, who “had great get-up-and-go,” to create a guide for Black people to find safe places to stop, eat, and stay when road-tripping on the nation’s newly built highways and turnpikes. Called the Green Book, this handbook grew from “just a pamphlet” listing welcoming places in the New York City area in 1936, to a 1940 edition featuring amenities in large cities in every state plus Washington, DC, and standing as a useful—and possibly life-saving—tool for Black travelers well into the 1960s. Velasquez’s scrapbook-style, painterly vignettes capture period detail and nimbly complement Bolden’s conversational free-verse text (“These travelers, / whether going places with smiles / or with tears in their eyes, / could face / hassles, humiliation, hardships”). Back matter includes a timeline, source notes, and selected sources.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a programming librarian at the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Public Library in northern Kentucky.

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