The Other Side, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.
Clover has always wondered why a fence separates the black side of town from the white side. Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence. But one day, Clover approaches Annie, who lives on the other side.
Evocative watercolors lay bare the personalities and emotions of her two young heroines, one African-American and one white. As the girls, both instructed by their mothers not to climb over the fence, watch each other from a distance, their body language and facial expressions provide clues to their ambivalence about their mothers' directives. Intrigued by her free-spirited white neighbor, narrator Clover watches enviously from her window as "that girl" plays outdoors in the rain. And after footloose Annie introduces herself, she points out to Clover that "a fence like this was made for sitting on"; what was a barrier between the new friends' worlds becomes a peaceful perch where the two spend time together throughout the summer.
By season's end, they join Clover's other pals jumping rope and, when they stop to rest, "We sat up on the fence, all of us in a long line." Lewis depicts bygone days with the girls in dresses and white sneakers and socks, and Woodson hints at a bright future with her closing lines: "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," says Annie, and Clover agrees. (from Publishers Weekly)
Activity: Kate read this book to first graders in Northfield, Montpelier, and Cabot in 2017. To introduce the story, Kate asked the children to describe the types of fences they have around their yards and their uses. As she read, they discussed how this fence was different and why adults cautioned children to stay on their own side. After finishing the book, the children were asked for suggestions as to how to break down real and imaginary barriers and how we can intentionally get to know each other better. Answers were discussed and then written on picket fence pieces. A poster was hung, the fence pieces were pasted on, and a gate was devised, in order to cross through that fence.