Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

by Keila V Dawson (Author) Alleanna Harris (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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.

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School Library Journal

Gr 2-4--This picture book about the birth of the Green Book and its creator provides historical context and a foundation for current social justice issues. Victor Hugo Green (1892-1960), a Black postal worker from Harlem, NY, loved taking road trips across the United States, but it wasn't always safe to do so because of Jim Crow laws, especially in segregated areas and sundown towns. Green understood that Black sightseers needed a reliable guidebook for safe travel; he created The Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936. The travel guide sold more than two million copies, and although Green was successful, he wished for a world that didn't need such a book. Some may find the time line of Green's life and the history of his guidebook difficult to read, but the use of a roadway to depict the passage of time is a clever visual device. Dawson's text makes a stark, complex topic accessible and comprehensible to younger readers. Harris's digital illustrations are realistic for historical accuracy and offer a warmth that invites readers into the narrative. Back matter includes an informative author's note, a time line, and a selected bibliography. Similar reads include Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood and The Journey of York by Hasan Davis. VERDICT A compelling picture book that introduces the history of segregation and its impact in the U. S. to young readers.--Hilary Tufo, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Reynoldsburg, OH

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This intricately illustrated and inspiring book reveals the courageous spirit of Victor Hugo Green and reminds us that within us all lies the power to change the world. —Oge Mora, author and illustrator of Thank You, Omu; Saturday; and The Oldest Student

Opening the Road is a story of resilience in the Black American tradition of 'making a way out of no way'—that is, challenging the limits of racism through ingenuity, community, and hope. —Veronica Miller Jamison, illustrator of A Computer Called Katherine

In Opening the Road, author Keila Dawson opens children's eyes to the dangers of segregation and the power of the human spirit to resist and find detours around injustice. —Nancy Churnin, award-winning author of Manjhi Moves a Mountain and The William Hoy Story

This road trip into history detailing Victor Green's efforts to bypass racial discrimination when traveling is a welcome companion to the stories of Rosa Parks and Elizabeth Jennings. —Beth Anderson, author of Lizzie Demands a Seat and An Inconvenient Alphabet

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Beaming Books
Publication date
January 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JNF018010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
United States
20th century
Social conditions
Segregation in transportation
African American authors
Automobile travel
Travel writers
African American automobile drivers
Green, Victor H
Green, Victor H.

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