Since I'm interested in writing nonfiction picture books, I've taken several webinars recently with The Writing Barn. (BTW, they're affordable and a fantastic way to learn a new genre!). The last one I took was with Liz Garton Scanlon on "Openings and Endings".
According to Scanlon, the opening of the book is a "promise to the reader. This is a story about a problem and we’re going to get to the end and it’ll be okay." After looking at several picture book beginnings, she showed how the ending brings the story full circle and fulfills that initial promise. In fact, if you only read the beginning and the ending of a picture book, you can guess what you might find in the middle. (Try it sometime with a picture book off your shelf. You'll be amazed at how this works!)
Why am I explaining all of this? Because that's what I found in Without Separation.
On January 8, 1931, Roberto was happy to go back to Lemon Grove Grammar School outside San Diego California.
His friends were happy to see him, but he and his Mexican friends were not welcomed by the principal. He told them that their teachers were waiting for them in the Mexican school on Olive Street.
As it turns out, in the summer of 1930, the board of trustees of the school district had met and complained about the Mexican children. They claimed that they held back the white students, were unclean, and a danger to the health of others. A decision was made to build a separate school--but no one told the Mexican parents.
Roberto and his friends refused to go to the new school which they called la caballeriza--the barnyard. Roberto was a good student and didn't want to attend a separate school. His family agreed. The Mexican families met and recognized that the new school was meant to segregate--not to provide English language instruction.
Roberto was chosen to be the lead plaintiff in the case against the school district. Roberto was perfect for the job: he had been turned away from Lemon Grove, was a good student, and fluent in English. His case could prove that the school board's justification for a new school was false.
On March 11, 1931 a Supreme Court Justice of California ruled: "The Lemon Grove School District had no power to set up a separate school for Mexican children."
Roberto had won! Not only was this a victory for him, but also for all the Mexican and Mexican American children within the school district.
The story comes full circle. At the end, all are welcomed.
Congratulations to Margo Jantzi, a librarian who took advantage of having two chances to win last week. She won June Almeida: Virus Detective from last week's blog.