Cover of Opening the Road

Title: OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Written by: Keila V. Dawson

Illustrated by: Alleanna Harris

Beaming Books, 2021

For ages: 4-8

Themes/topics: The Green Book, segregation, travel, racism, biography, Black Americans, Black entrepreneurs

Opening pages:

Victor Hugo Green was tired of hearing no. Victor loved the freedom of driving on the open road, but too often the road was closed to him. It was like this for most Black people in the United States.

When he and his wife, Alma, traveled from New York to Virginia to visit family, they risked getting turned away, yelled at, even hurt.

Publisher’s Description

Hungry? Check the Green Book.
Tired? Check the Green Book.
Sick? Check the Green Book.

In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn’t visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could be safe in New York City. The guide sold like hot cakes! Soon customers started asking Green to make a guide to help them travel and vacation safely across the nation too. With the help of his mail carrier co-workers and the African American business community, Green’s guide allowed millions of African Americans to travel safely and enjoy traveling across the nation.

In the first picture book about the creation and distribution of The Green Book, author Keila Dawson and illustrator Alleanna Harris tell the story of the man behind it and how this travel guide opened the road for a safer, more equitable America.

Why I highly recommend this book:

Recent films and TV shows have highlighted The Green Book, but this is the first picture book to tackle this fascinating and important subject. Dawson and Harris do a fantastic job with compelling and poignant text and visual details that provide a strong sense of the segregation-era setting and the urgent need The Green Book filled. I also learned a lot about the man behind the book. For instance, Victor was a mail carrier and he worked on this book in the evenings after long days spent delivering mail. And he sought the help of mail carriers from across the country, asking them to share the names and addresses of places that welcomed Black customers. We follow the book from its inception to the final edition (1966-1967) and end with the acknowledgement that though segregation by race had become illegal, “the fight against racism still had – and has – a long way to go.” This engaging book both informs and moves the reader. Highly recommended!

Resources:

Be sure to read the moving Author’s Note and see the informative, and visually appealing, timeline at the end.

(For a colossal collection of picture book reviews, please visit this page on Susanna’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)

6 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

  1. Yes, I look forward to reading Keila’s book too. I didn’t know about the green book until a year or so ago, when I saw a movie on the topic. This book looks larger than life and the illustrations are beautiful! It’s a big story to share with kids and begin the discussion of why equality is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gabi, thanks so much for reviewing OPENING THE ROAD! After I hearing about what he did, I knew his was a story that had to be told. The movie GREEN BOOK came out after I started my research, but it didn’t even mention Victor Green!

    Liked by 1 person

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