Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards))

Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades K - 3Grades 4 - 6n/a5.12321
A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Praise for Separate is Never Equal
STARRED REVIEWS
"Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later.”
--School Library Journal, starred review

"Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education."
--Publishers Weekly

"Pura Belpré Award–winning Tonatiuh makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation."
--Booklist

"The straightforward narrative is well matched with the illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, cloth, brick, and (Photoshopped) hair to provide textural variation. This story deserves to be more widely known, and now, thanks to this book, it will be."
--The Horn Book Magazine

Hardcover, 40 pages
Published on May 6, 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
ISBN-10: 1419710540
ISBN-13: 9781419710544
8 Book Reviews
  • dogonewsjunkie
    dogonewsjunkie5 months44 stars
    It was a nice experience reading this like it sends that message of it's self a explanatory title, "Separate is never equal" so guys read this book its really nice especially for kids 4-7. I am not seven its because of my little sister.
    • destinylives
      destinylives8 months55 stars
      Amazing book that shows the struggle of Sylvia Mendez and her family's fight for freedom
      • sandwing2
        sandwing211 months44 stars
        This book,is about a girl that was told you cant come becuse how she looks. they talk to the judge why they couldnt 'go to Amircan school . good book rimids me of black literature.
        • gomaat18
          gomaat1811 months22 stars
          This book is so funny that their ears were so hilarious, and that the brown people was separated by the white people this is bad that we need to be equal.
          • kycoop
            kycoop11 months33 stars
            The book Separate Is Never Equal is about a family who is brown, they go through a lot of challenges, one of the challenges is that they are not aloud to go to the same school that other white kids go to. The dad thinks that is not fair at all so the dad has to go through everyone who works at the school and try to convinced them that his kids should go to the same school. The theme in this book is to never give up, I think that because in the book the dad never gave up by telling everyone in the school that it is not fair that his kids have to go to a different school. I also think that the other theme in the book is take a stand. I think that because, in the book the dad is sticking up for brown people and is saying that even though we look different we should be separate. This book made me realize that even if you are different you should never be separate, because separate is never equal. If you are the kind of person who like picture books, and the kind of person who likes the kind of books that have the theme never give up, and take a stand, then this book is for you!
            • sdiamondx580
              sdiamondx580almost 4 years22 stars
              I think its good but the pictures they did not look like us Im not being mean thoe ok
              • super10
                super10about 6 years55 stars
                I think this book is a great push for anti- racism. In this book the Méndez family fight for segregation. They tried to enroll 5 kids in a school. 2 white kids got in, but 3 Mexican kids didn't. The Méndez family constantly asked why, but wouldn't get a answer. But after a year of fighting, they got justice. I liked this book because it showed me that segregation is cruel, mean, and unfair. I really liked the style that the author used to draw pictures with in the book.
                • tickytorts
                  tickytortsabout 7 years55 stars
                  This book explains how the Mendez family fought segregation. Basically, it means that white people went to a clean, nice school when Mexican people went to a dirty school. Read how the Mendez dad fights segregation so all people can go to a clean, nice school. This book is important because you can learn about segregation and how bad it is.