Academic journal article Language Arts

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Academic journal article Language Arts

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Article excerpt

Uncle Jed's Barbershop Written by Margaree King Mitchell Illustrated by James Ransome Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1993, unpaged, ISBN 978-0- 6717- 669- 7

1994 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

Uncle Jed's Barbershop is the story of itinerant barber Jedediah Johnson told by his grandniece Sarah Jean. Each week, Uncle Jed spends time with Sarah Jean, pretend-cutting her hair, smoothing barber's lotion on her neck, and sharing his dream of opening a barbershop. Featuring predominantly earth tones with splashes of blues and greens, Ransome's richly detailed oil paintings bring the story to life. In a particularly meaningful tableau, a spotted hound dog occupies a braided rug as Sarah Jean sits on Uncle Jed's lap with a tube radio and pot-bellied stove in the background. She listens as he smiles broadly and gesticulates.

Mitchell's straightforward style and matter-of- fact discussion of racist practices in the Jim Crow South frame Uncle Jed's character. His demeanor is decisive, resilient, and focused. When Sarah Jean becomes sick at age five and is refused treatment, Uncle Jed's savings save her. When his new savings are lost in the 1929 bank collapse and work is scarce during the Great Depression, Uncle Jed is disappointed, not bitter. …

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