Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez

by Larry Dane Brimner (Author) Maya Gonzalez (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

This important yet little-known civil rights story focuses on Roberto Alvarez, a student whose 1931 court battle against racism and school segregation in Lemon Grove, California, is considered the first time an immigrant community used the courts to successfully fight injustice. A must-read for young activists, or for anyone interested in standing up for what's right.

Roberto Alvarez's world changed the day he could no longer attend Lemon Grove Grammar School in the small, rural community where he lived near San Diego, California. He and the other Mexican American students were told they had to go to a new, separate school--one where they would not hold back the other students. But Roberto and the other students and their families believed the new school's real purpose was to segregate, to separate. They didn't think that was right, or just, or legal.

Based on true events, this picture book by Sibert award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner and Pura Belpré honor award-winning illustrator Maya Gonzalez follows Roberto and the other immigrant families on their journey.


Review quotes

★ Separation is never equal. When the Lemon Grove School District's board of trustees decided to expel every one of the 75 students who were of Mexican American descent in order to establish an all-White student body, the Lemon Grove Neighbor's Committee—Comité de Vecinos de Lemon Grove—decided to take action. Brimner's straightforward narrative follows Roberto Alvarez from his return to school after Christmas vacation only to be told he was no longer welcome to the day he was able to receive the same education as the White students. The substantial author's note places this case in context with other desegregation cases in the U.S.—particularly in California. Gonzalez's colorful and detailed mural-esque illustrations make the historical flavor of the times accessible. A critical contribution to discussions of equal access and of systemic racism. — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Without Separation is written with heartfelt respect and is buoyed by Larry Brimner's consummate research. Maya Gonzalez's art is a glorious match to this poignant and celebratory account about our nation's first successful school desegregation case. A must-have for classrooms, school libraries, and readers who honor diversity. —Pam Muñoz Ryan, Newbery Honor and Orbis Pictus Award-winning author

"Another powerful story from the distinguished Larry Dane Brimner, which celebrates those who fought against past discrimination, and encourages today's young readers to step up, too." —Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author

"Brimner skillfully weaves threads of the past to recount the powerful story of Roberto Alvarez, reminding young readers that justice is the ripple of change." —Rafael López, Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator

"Careful research and vibrant illustrations combine to tell the inspiring story of a Mexican American community that stood up against prejudice and school segregation. Without Separation depicts an important yet almost unknown piece of American history that will resonate with young readers nowadays." —Duncan Tonatiuh, Pura Belpré and Sibert Award-winning author and illustrator

"As always, Larry Dane Brimner unearths the forgotten chapters from America's history and brings them to light. This powerful narrative is captured in Maya Gonzalez's richly textured folk art illustrations. Roberto Alvarez's story celebrates the power young voices have in changing our world for the better." —Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of Before She Was Harriet

Larry Dane Brimner
Larry Dane Brimner studied literature and writing at San Diego State University and taught school for 20 years. He is the author of more than 200 books for children, including the Sibert Award-winning Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 and the Racing Ace early reader series. Larry lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Kaylani Juanita illustrates inclusive picture books, editorial art, and afros. She studied at CalArts and CCA for a BFA in Illustration. She is the illustrator of the Stonewall Book Award winner When Aidan Became a Brother, the Coretta Scott King Illustration Honoree Magnificent Homespun Brown, and the Racing Ace early reader series. Kaylani lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781684371952
Lexile Measure
1000L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
September 20, 2021
Series
-

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