By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Beautiful story of family's journey from slavery to freedom.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows glimpses of slavery, the U.S. Civil War, the civil rights movement and protests, how quilts are sewn.
A family can stay together through hardship and history. Even in hard times, there is love, hope, and family. A passed-down family tradition can become a way to make a living.
Positive Role Models
The women hold this family together through hard times, keep hope alive, and pass down their wisdom.
Violence & Scariness
An enslaved person is killed while running away. A silhouette shows a man aiming a gun at a person who has escaped slavery, who's also being chased by dogs. Several images in a collage show enslaved people being whipped, one with his pants pulled down. Some violent images from '60s-era civil rights conflicts.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Show Way, a picture book that won a Newbery Honor, is by Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming) and illustrated by Hudson Talbott. It traces nine generations of African American women in Woodson's family own family, through the quilts they made. There are historical references, including to the era of slavery in the United States and the civil rights movement, that will need explaining to younger kids, as will the information in Talbott's collages. There are some references to violence: An enslaved person is killed while running away. A silhouette shows a man aiming a gun at a person who has escaped slavery, who's also being chased by dogs. Several images in a collage show enslaved people being whipped, one with his pants pulled down. And there are some violent images from '60s-era civil rights conflicts.
Where to Read
Based on 4 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
In SHOW WAY, author Jacqueline Woodson draws on the lives of each of her female ancestors on her mother's side of the family, covering nine generations up to her daughter. She begins with a little unnamed girl sold away from her family at a young age, who learns to sew quilts, called Show Ways, that show the road to freedom. Her daughter, Mathis May, is also sold away, and also learns to sew the Show Ways. When freedom comes, the daughters in the family continue to learn how to sew beautiful quilts, which they sell to earn a living. Eventually some of them learn to read, become teachers, participate in the civil rights movement, and on down to the author, who becomes a writer who still sews quilts, and has a daughter, to whom she tells the stories of her family.
Is It Any Good?
This beautiful story traces nine generations of African American women and has spectacular art. Some of the pictures are gorgeous watercolor paintings, some are historical collages, and some are visual metaphors, such as one showing a map of the U.S. with the states crudely sewn together and a large, frayed rip along the Mason-Dixon line. The rich, complex, two-page, borderless pictures reward repeated viewings and close inspection.
The text is wonderfully written, with recurring motifs about mother love and roads of stars, quilts, and stories. But there are many references that some younger children may not understand, such when characters are said to have "jumped broom" (a wedding ceremony tradition). The author refers to "the north side of the war," but doesn't say which war. So Show Way is probably best shared with an adult.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the history referenced in Show Way. What was slavery and how did it end?
What happened to enslaved people after they were freed by President Abraham Lincoln when the U.S. Civil War was still going on? What happened after the Civil War ended?
What was the civil rights movement? How is life for Black Americans different now than before it happened? How different is it since your parents were kids?
- Author: Jacqueline Woodson
- Illustrator: Hudson Talbott
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Activism, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Group
- Publication date: March 5, 2006
- Number of pages: 40
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: June 6, 2020
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Where to Read
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