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The Gold Cadillac (1998)

The Gold Cadillac (1998)

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3.83 of 5 Votes: 5
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0140389636 (ISBN13: 9780140389630)
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About book The Gold Cadillac (1998)

This is a story set in 1950’s of a 10-year-old African American girl Wilma who lives with her family in Ohio. One day her father buys a golden Cadillac, and her mother is visibly upset because they were saving money to buy a house. The father wants to visit family in the South, so they set off for Mississippi in their new car, with other extended family members in other cars. As they move deeper into the segregated South, Wilma notices the “whites only” and “colors only” signs. People stare at them strangely. At one point, cops take the whole party to the police station and they question the father about the car. It turns out they think he stole the car because he is black, and they make him pay a fine. Wilma realizes that being black somehow changed the way people saw them in Mississippi. Eventually the father sells the car to save up for the new house.This book is an example of historical fiction because it is set in a historical period of segregation. It portrays the prejudice and racism that was prevalent in that historical time. I would recommend this book for grades 2-5 (Some teachers might want to share it with their younger students in grade 1, for example, if they feel that they would understand the topic.) Lexile level is 650L, and grade equivalent 4.5. It can be used as a read aloud with students in grades 2-3 and independent read in grades 4-5. The book is not long (46 pages), so it is suitable for reluctant readers. Also, if used as a read-aloud, it won’t take too much time to finish. Students can practice inference comprehension strategy with this book, because many important details are shown by the actions of the characters. Teacher can ask questions to scaffold this process, such as, “How did the mother feel about the car? How can you tell?” (Because the writer describes her behavior.) Likewise, students can make inferences about prejudice and suspicion shown by some people in the book. Students can analyze which actions show this. Students can compare and contrast the characters of the mother and father and their attitudes about the new car (what were their conflicting interests?) They can trace the character development and maturation of Wilma as she becomes aware of open racism in the South. Other concepts to teach include point of view, plot, main problem and solution (this can refer to the problem of the car, and the solution of selling it, or the problem of racism and the solution of eradicating it – students can lead this discussion.)Themes to explore are racism, prejudice, economic inequality (why would it be unusual for a black person to own a Cadillac in the South?) This is a good book for integration of social studies - teaching about segregation and how it affected the daily lives of African American families.

“The Gold Cadillac” is part history and part of the main character’s perspective. Wilma is 10 years old and lives in Ohio. One day she sees her dad pulling into the driveway with a golden Cadillac. The dad and children were very excited about the car, but the mom was not. They were saving up for a house, and was angry he bought the car. The mother refused ride in the car. On Sunday Wilma thought her mother would give in and ride in the car on the way to church, but she does not and they end up walking. The dad plans to take a trip to Mississippi to see his family and the neighbors warn him about discrimination he may face driving South in the Cadillac. The whole family plus the rest of their extended go along in different cars. While traveling Wilma notices signs that say “whites only” and “color only.” The dad was questioned by the police about where he bought the car. One cop takes the dad and the other drives the car to the police station. Because he was black the police thought the car was stolen and made the dad pay a fine.Wilma realized that being black changed the way people saw them and treated them in Mississippi. The dad traded cars with his brother because they were having too much trouble in the Cadillac. He eventually sold the car because he was putting the family in danger and wanted to save up for the house. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the discrimination blacks felt because reading the book could help create a cultural awareness.

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CIP: Two Black girls living in the North are proud of their family's beautiful new Cadillac until they take it on a visit to the South and encounter racial prejudice for the first time.My notes: This book is about an African American family whose dad just came home with a brand new Cadillac that he traded in for a Ford. His daughters and extended family are really excited about the new purchase, but his wife refuses to accept the new car because they had a perfectly fine car and are trying to save up for a new home. The mom still has not accepted the new car when the dad decides to drive the Cadillac down south. The mom thinks this is a bad idea because there is segregation. As the family is driving, the dad gets arrested, probably because he is black. On the way to the police station they could see signs for only white people and only black people. They soon decided to go back up to Ohio and the dad traded in the car because he felt they didn't need it because he finally realized what the mother was trying to tell him in the first place. They ended up getting their old car back and being together as a family is all that matters to them. Again, like The Well, I would use this book with Civil Rights movement literature and write about the accounts of real life people. I would also have the students visualize and try putting themselves in the characters' footsteps. I would also have students read this book as well as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry because it is from the same author and students can pick out similarities and differences.

This book tells a story about two girls who live in the northern state of Ohio with their parents. The family's prize possession is their father's brand new gold cadillac. This story touches on the issue of racism, when the family travels down to rural Mississippi. The family helps each other to overcome this obstacle and return home. In the end, the family learns a major lesson about unity. This story is a great read aloud for black history month. Teachers can read this story to their students and help them to understand the racial hardships that occurred in this country.
—Robyn Simmons

The story of an Ohio African American family from the past that own a brand new gold Cadillac. There is tension between the parents over this as the mother thinks it is extravagant as they are saving for a new house. The problem arises when they decide to visit relatives in Mississippi where motels, restaurants and water fountains are designated for whites only. The father is stopped and questioned unfairly by the police as they suspect the car is stolen because he is driving it. The children in the story become frightened as they witness the horrible behavior of the south.This story gives a very good depiction of how people felt in the south at one time. Students could relate to the two girls in the story. This tiny snapshot is a poster for students.

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