The other side

Jacqueline Woodson

Book - 2001

Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.

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Picture books
New York : Putnam's 2001.
Physical Description
unpaged : ill
Main Author
Jacqueline Woodson (-)
Other Authors
Earl B. Lewis (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Ages 5-8. Like her novel I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (1994), Woodson's picture book tells a story of a friendship across race. Lewis' beautiful watercolors show a middle-class pre-civil rights setting, in which young girls wear pretty dresses, and there's a brown picket fence--in almost every picture--that divides the blooming green fields. Clover tells the story. She lives in a big yellow house on one side of the fence. Annie Rose lives on the other side, the white side. Their mothers say it isn't safe to climb over. First the girls sit together on the fence, getting to know each other and watching the whole wide world. Then one day Annie Rose jumps down to join Clover and her friends jumping rope. Even young children will understand the fence metaphor and they will enjoy the quiet friendship drama. One unforgettable picture shows Clover and Annie Rose in town with their mothers; the white-gloved adults pass one another without seeing, but the girls turn around and look back with yearning across the sidewalk lines. All the pictures have that sense of longing; it's in the girls' body language (their arms reaching out) and in the landscape with its ever-present barrier. At the end, as Clover, Annie Rose, and the other girls sit together on the fence, drooping and tired after their game, they are sad; they want the fence to come down. ((Reviewed February 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Woodson (If You Come Softly; I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This) lays out her resonant story like a poem, its central metaphor a fence that divides blacks from whites. Lewis's (My Rows and Piles of Coins) evocative watercolors lay bare the personalities and emotions of her two young heroines, one African-American and one white. As the girls, both instructed by their mothers not to climb over the fence, watch each other from a distance, their body language and facial expressions provide clues to their ambivalence about their mothers' directives. Intrigued by her free-spirited white neighbor, narrator Clover watches enviously from her window as "that girl" plays outdoors in the rain. And after footloose Annie introduces herself, she points out to Clover that "a fence like this was made for sitting on"; what was a barrier between the new friends' worlds becomes a peaceful perch where the two spend time together throughout the summer. By season's end, they join Clover's other pals jumping rope and, when they stop to rest, "We sat up on the fence, all of us in a long line." Lewis depicts bygone days with the girls in dresses and white sneakers and socks, and Woodson hints at a bright future with her closing lines: "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," says Annie, and Clover agrees. Pictures and words make strong partners here, convincingly communicating a timeless lesson. Ages 5-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1-4-A story of friendship across a racial divide. Clover, the young African-American narrator, lives beside a fence that segregates her town. Her mother instructs her never to climb over to the other side because it isn't safe. But one summer morning, Clover notices a girl on the other side. Both children are curious about one another, and as the summer stretches on, Clover and Annie work up the nerve to introduce themselves. They dodge the injunction against crossing the fence by sitting on top of it together, and Clover pretends not to care when her friends react strangely at the sight of her sitting side by side with a white girl. Eventually, it's the fence that's out of place, not the friendship. Woodson's spare text is easy and unencumbered. In her deft care, a story that might have suffered from heavy-handed didacticism manages to plumb great depths with understated simplicity. In Lewis's accompanying watercolor illustrations, Clover and her friends pass their summer beneath a blinding sun that casts dark but shallow shadows. Text and artwork together beautifully.-Catherine T. Quattlebaum, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Aware of the fence that separates the black part of town from the white part, Clover is curious when a white girl suddenly comes around and sits on the fence day after day, so she decides to take the initiative and make a friend despite the consequences of breaking the strict rules that everyone lives by.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s LiteratureClover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together. With the addition of a brand-new author's note, this special edition celebrates the tenth anniversary of this classic book. As always, Woodson moves readers with her lyrical narrative, and E. B. Lewis's amazing talent shines in his gorgeous watercolor illustrations.