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Separate is never equal : the story of Sylvia Mendez & her family's fight for desegregation
2014
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Shares the triumphant story of young Civil Rights activist Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who, at the age of 8, worked with her parents and other community members to file a landmark lawsuit in federal district court to end segregated education in mid-20th-century California. - (Baker & Taylor)

"Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 inCalifornia"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California. - (Baker & Taylor)

Seven years before Brown v. Board of Education, the Mendez family fought to end segregation in California schools. Discover their incredible story in this picture book from award-winning creator Duncan Tonatiuh

A Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book and Robert F. Sibert Honor Book!
 
When her family moved to the town of Westminster, California, young Sylvia Mendez was excited about enrolling in her neighborhood school. But she and her brothers were turned away and told they had to attend the Mexican school instead. Sylvia could not understand why&;she was an American citizen who spoke perfect English. Why were the children of Mexican families forced to attend a separate school? Unable to get a satisfactory answer from the school board, the Mendez family decided to take matters into its own hands and organize a lawsuit.
 
In the end, the Mendez family&;s efforts helped bring an end to segregated schooling in California in 1947, seven years before the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in schools across America.
 
Using his signature illustration style and incorporating his interviews with Sylvia Mendez, as well as information from court files and news accounts, award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the inspiring story of the Mendez family&;s fight for justice and equality.
 
- (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)

Author Biography

Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His books have received many awards over the years. He currently lives in San Miguel with his wife and children but travels to the US often.
- (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

Pura Belpré Award–winning Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, 2013) makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation. The concise, informative text, with occasional and always translated Spanish lines, discusses how being banned from enrolling in an Orange County grade school because of her skin tone and Mexican surname inspired Sylvia Mendez' family to fight for integrated schools. Soon they were joined by many others, including the NAACP and the Japanese American Citizens League, which led to their hard-won victory. Tonatiuh's multimedia artwork showcases period detail, such as the children's clothing and the differences between the school facilities, in his unique folk art style. An endnote essay recapping the events, photos of Sylvia and her schools, and a glossary and resource list for further research complete this thorough exploration of an event that is rarely taught. This would be a useful complement to other books about the fight for desegregation, such as Deborah Wiles' Freedom Summer (2001) or Andrea Davis Pinkney's Sit-In (2010). Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 2–5—When the Mendezes moved to Westminster, CA, in 1944, third-grader Sylvia tried to enter Westminster School. However, the family was repeatedly told, "'Your children have to go to the Mexican school.' 'But why?' asked Mr. Mendez……'That is how it is done.'" In response, they formed the Parents' Association of Mexican-American Children, distributed petitions, and eventually filed a successful lawsuit that was supported by organizations ranging from the Japanese American Citizens League to the American Jewish Congress. Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later. Back matter includes a detailed author's note and photographs. The excellent bibliography cites primary sources, including court transcripts and the author's interview with Sylvia Mendez, who did attend Westminster School and grew up to earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Tonatiuh's illustrations tell a modern story with figures reminiscent of the pictorial writing of the Mixtec, an indigenous people from Mexico. Here, the author deliberately connects his heritage with the prejudices of mid-20th century America. One jarring illustration of three brown children barred from a pool filled with lighter-skinned children behind a sign that reads, "No Dogs or Mexicans Allowed," will remind readers of photographs from the Jim Crow South. Compare and contrast young Sylvia Mendez's experience with Robert Coles's The Story of Ruby Bridges (Scholastic, 1995) to broaden a discussion of school desegregation.—Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

[Page 151]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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