NORTHBOUND: A Train Ride Out of Segregation

NORTHBOUND: A Train Ride Out of Segregation, written by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Winner James E. Ransome, offers “a window into a dark period of history that still resonates today.” Written in appropriate, accessible language for children ages 6-9, this picture book is a wonderful springboard for children of any age to discuss the Jim Crow Laws that legalized racial segregation in certain southern states following the Civil War, despite the abolition of slavery. I thank Candlewick for publishing this important book and for offering me a chance to provide an honest review.

NORTHBOUND (published October 13, 2020) is the 3rd picture book in a trilogy based upon author Michael S. Bandy’s own childhood experiences with segregation. This story begins as Michael steps onto a northbound train in Alabama for the first time in his young life, and is ushered to the “Colored Only” section with his grandmother. But once the train arrives in Atlanta, he is surprised to see the sign come down and delighted when a white boy named Bobby Ray seeks out his companionship. The boys play together happily, finding much common ground, until the “Whites Only” sign is put back up in Bobby Ray’s train car and they are forced to separate. Back in his original seat, Michael falls asleep, and when he wakes, it’s nighttime in Cincinnati, Ohio. He notes that once again, the segregation signs have been removed. As the boys disembark, Bobby Ray gives Michael a memento of their friendship that Michael will forever cherish.

I truly enjoyed reading NORTHBOUND and look forward to reading the first two books in this trilogy by the talented team of Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein:

White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein

“Inspirational in tone, this is a strong introduction for young listeners and readers to the American Civil Rights movement.”
—Kirkus Reviews

(Note: White Water has been developed into a film, coproduced –as well as coauthored– by Eric Stein.)

Granddaddy's Turn by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein

This seemingly simple read-aloud to introduce young readers to the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act achieves complexity in its images.
—Kirkus Reviews

NORTHBOUND is presented by author Michael S. Bandy in this vimeo clip:


    1. Thank you for your comment, Micki! I agree that the illustrations in all three books are exceptional. James E. Ransome illustrated this book as well as Granddaddy’s Turn, while Shadra Strickland is the illustrator of White Water.


  1. Sounds like a terrific book that should be read to every child and be in every library. This book is a great way to educate children in the history of racial issues and the freedom movement. They will be draw by the child main character and the changes he encounters between the Southern attitude of the time and that of the Northerners as evidenced by the removal of the sign. I’m looking forward to reading Mr. Bandy’s book. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree that this book is the perfect springboard to discuss the history of racial segregation and the birth of the freedom movement, and should read in schools, homes, and libraries everywhere. Thank you for your comment!


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