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Cover image for With the might of angels : the diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson
With the might of angels : the diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, 2011.
Physical Description:
324 p. : ill., map ; 20 cm.
General Note:
"Hadley, Virginia, 1954"--Cover.
Reading Level:
740 L Lexile
In 1955 Hadley, Virginia, twelve-year-old Dawnie Rae Johnson, a tomboy who excels at baseball and at her studies, becomes the first African American student to attend the all-white Prettyman Coburn school, turning her world upside down. Includes historical notes about the period.


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Coretta Scott King Honor author Andrea Davis Pinkney brings her talents to a stunning new Dear America diary about school integration.

In the spring of 1954, twelve-year-old Dawn Rae Johnson's life turns upside down. After the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Dawnie learns she will be attending a previously all-white school. She's the only one of her friends to go to this new school and to leave behind all that is familiar to face great uncertainty in the school year ahead.

However, not everyone supports integration and much of the town is outraged at the decision. Dawnie must endure the harsh realities of racism firsthand, while continuing to work hard to get a good education and prove she deserves the opportunity. But the backlash against Dawnie's attendance of an all-white school is more than she's prepared for. When her father loses his job as a result, and her little brother is bullied, Dawnie has to wonder if it's worth it. In time, Dawnie learns that the true meaning of justice comes from remaining faithful to the integrity within oneself.

Author Notes

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the author of more than twenty books for children and young adults, including the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters ; Duke Ellington , a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Book; Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation ; and most recently the New York Times bestseller Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down . She lives in New York City, where she also works as a children's book editor.

Reviews 4

Horn Book Review

In 1954 Virginia, Dawnie Rae wants to be a doctor, to help her brother be "normal," and to meet Jackie Robinson. With her parents' approval, she also wants to attend the all-white Prettyman Coburn School. Harassed by Coburn students and teachers and rejected by lifelong friends, Dawnie Rae, through Pinkney's authentic scenes of boycotts, violence, and familial love, walks the difficult path toward racial equality. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

In this Dear America title, set shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, 12-year-old Dawnie Rae Johnson is a gifted student and talented baseball player and becomes the first black student to integrate Prettyman Coburn school. There, Dawnie is alternately taunted, ignored, or ridiculed (even by the staff), incidents that test her faith and resolve. There are also difficulties at home: when her father's employer endorses segregation, he quits, leaving her laundress mother sole moneymaker. Despite all of this, Dawnie, increasingly supported by family and a new friend, Gertie, who is Jewish, experiences moments of hope, showing to readers how equality and justice are an ongoing endeavor. Dawnie is a wonderfully drawn character whose lively and poignant diary entries including letters to her hero, Jackie Robinson detail her dreams, fears, frustrations, and achievements, personalizing segregation's and integration's diverse impacts. Back matter provides historical background, information on real-life events and people mentioned throughout, photos, and a time line, while Pinkney relates her own experiences in an author's note.--Rosenfeld, Shell. Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Upon being identified by the NAACP, Dawnie Rae Johnson becomes the first African American to integrate an all white school following the ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education. An animated reading of Dawnie's diary entries draw listeners in and make them part of her experiences and emotions as she bravely faces the angry crowds on her first days of school, excitedly describes her adventures on a pogo stick, angrily confronts her little brother after finding his scribbles in her diary, and nervously wonders when her father will find a new job. Waites's exceptional talents give voice to Dawnie's determination. Channie Waites expertly brings to life Andrea Davis Pinkney's story (Scholastic, 2011). Dawnie is a fictional 12-year-old living in Virginia in 1954. Pinkney's ability to weave historical events such as the Montgomery bus protest, Jackie Robinson's integration of baseball, and visits from Martin Luther King, Jr. into the fictional diary entries give listeners insight into what life was like during this important period of American history. Read with passion and expression, listeners will admire the spunky young girl in this entertaining, historically-based recording. The enhanced CD includes historical images and an interview with the author. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.-Cathie Bashaw Morton, Millbrook Central School District, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Coretta Scott King Awardwinner Pinkney provides an outstanding contribution to the Dear America series with the diary of the (fictional) first African-American student to integrate the segregated schools of Hadley, Va.Pinkney paints a vivid picture of a bright 12-year-old who is athletic, fun-loving and full of dreams. She admires Jackie Robinson and is fiercely protective of her autistic younger brother. Shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision is handed down, Dawnie Rae is selected as one of three African-American children who will integrate the Prettyman Coburn school. True to the series' format, the fictional diary entries, chronicle the both events of the primary story arc and fill in telling details of the time and place. Today's readers may well be stunned when Dawnie Rae's Mama and Daddy bluntly tell her the family doesn't have enough money to buy a television, and she goes on to muse about the buying power of the 1954 nickel. While many contemporary accounts of the Civil Rights movement focus on the courage, integrity and character of those who pioneered the struggle, Pinkney does a commendable job imagining both the setting and the inner emotions that ordinary children might have wrestled with as they stepped into history.A solid entry in an ever-popular series. (historical note, photographs, biographical notes, time line)(Historical fiction. 8-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



From Dear America: With the Might of Angels This morning when I sat down, Daddy took a break from his breakfast reading. The little smile playing in his eyes told me a surprise was brewing. He looked at me for a long moment. "Happy birthday, Dawnie." Then he pushed that New York paper under my nose. "Here, child." He was eager to show me the front page headline. "Clip this for your new diary." I looked carefully. Daddy told me to read what I saw. He said, "Speak loud enough to scare some pigeons." I read slowly, pressing each word into the warm morning air. Washington - May 17, 1954 High Court Bans School Segregation: 9-to-0 Decision Grants Time to Comply Seems Mama already knew the news. Didn't take her but a minute to hand me a pair of scissors from her sewing basket, and a tin of paste from her craft bin. "Make your birthday book look pretty," Goober said. Nobody even had to tell me what to do. I knew right off why those scissors and paste brush were suddenly in my hands. I've carefully glued the headline right here as a memory of the day I turned twelve. Excerpted from With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, Hadley, Virginia 1954 by Andrea Davis Pinkney All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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