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A Friendship for Today

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  167 reviews
From highly acclaimed, award-winning author Patricia McKissack comes a powerful, poignant, and timely tale of segregation, family, and one surprising friendship.

The year is 1954, the place is Missouri, and twelve-year-old Rosemary Patterson is about to make history. She is one of the first African American students to enter the white school in her town. Headstrong, smart R
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Scholastic Press
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Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Regina by: 2010 Children's Sequoyah Masterlist
Looking at the cover, you'd never guess that Friendship for Today is historical fiction. It looks contemporary, and that might help to get more kids (girls?) to read it. They will be glad they did. This book is set in Kirkland, MO, during the 1954-1955 school year, when Rosemary Patterson finds herself at a brand-new school, in the first year of integration, as the only African-American student in her 6th grade class. Her best friend J.J. should have been in her class, but he was stricken with p ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: grades 4-8
McKissack draws from her memories of her experience as the first African-American in an integrated elementary school to tell a fictional tale of Rosemary Patterson, a young black girl whose world is radically altered when the all-black school closes in 1954 and she enrolls in 6th grade at a brand-new school. Shortly before school begins Rosemary's best friend J.J. beats her fair and square in a foot race, and Rosemary discovers she does not like to lose. But she loses much more than a race when ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rosemary is going to start school at a school that use to be an ' all white' school. She is really nervous and some what scared to start this school. the good thing about it, is that she will not be going to this school alone. Her best friend is going to attend this school with her, until they found out that her friend got diagnosed with polio. Rosemary has to face the school alone, being the only and the first African American student it the whole town to join a school that use to be and all wh ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
A Friendship for Today written Patricia C. McKissack, takes place in 1954 in the state of Missouri. The story is of a 12-year-old girl named Rosemary, who is one of the first African American students to enter the white school in town. Rosemary is up for the challenge and even excited until her very best friend is diagnosed with polio. She encounters a mean; racist girl by the name of Grace Hamilton and what the reader thinks will happen with their friendship is the complete opposite. The school ...more
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book yesterday and have already encouraged the 5th grade teachers in my school to use it along with their Civil Rights Unit! It is a profound story told simply and beautifully through the eyes of an intelligent, thoughtful twelve-year-old girl in 1954 Missouri. I like the fact that race is not the only type of prejudice addressed in the story. Other tie-ins to the plot are childhood polio and the universal difficulties of divorce. Each issue is addressed with honesty and sen ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 5-stars
This book was so amazing!

It was a true eye-opener for me to learn about how people, especially kids, felt about integration for the first time.

I think that this book truly was a great reading experience. It was also one of those books where you can easily empathize with the characters, especially Rosemary. I LOVED IT!
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a good book. I very much liked reading from the perspective of a child, illustrating that sometimes the "explanations" adults give to kids make no sense to kids, while at the same time kids are much more aware of and capable of understanding things than adults give them credit for. ...more
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I great introduction for kids to the racial tensions of the 1950s. The author draws on her own experiences of being integrated into a mostly white school in Kirkland, Missouri. The "trueness" of the book gives it depth that many other books don't have. Really liked this one. ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States made a historic ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education: Segregation of public schools was declared unconstitutional. And, like so many others, the life of twelve-year-old Rosemary Patterson was forever changed.

Rosemary doesn't really care for the idea of her school being closed just because of the decision. "If white people want to go to school with us so much, seems to me all t
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rosemary Patterson is excited when she learns that she’ll be attending a new school in the fall. It’s 1954 and the Kirkland Board of Education has just announced that all of the schools will be integrated. But the experience is not quite what Rosemary expected. She’s one of the only black students in 6th grade (her best friend J.J. comes down with polio and misses out on the whole year), and at first, none of the other kids want anything to do with her. It’s particularly difficult for Rosemary, ...more
This isn't my kind of book.

I think I picked this up as a freebie from Scholastic. That was about the time CLI was the rage in my school. As part of that, we were encouraged to complete author studies. We were provided a set of books of an author. The one I received was Patricia McKissack. I have enjoyed her other books so thought this one might be okay.

But it's still not my kind of book. Race relations and girls. Yuck!

Not wanting to list another of my books on the "Do Not Plan to Read" list, I
Morgan Kerndt
The book “A Friendship for Today” tells the journey about a young African American child transitioning from a segregated all African American school to a school with all whites. Rosemary was a very special child, she was a child of great capabilities in academics, going to an all white school made her feel like she wasn't as special at times. At first everyone was a bit cold towards her. Switching to a new school was not easy for her, especially because she was the only African American in her c ...more
Rosemary (don't call her 'Rosie') attends a segregated school in MO, in 1954--but that school is closing its doors, and all the students must be integrated into the white schools in town. She's nervous, for sure. But she has a best friend who'll be coming along with her--her neighbor JJ. But JJ contracts polio suddenly and Rosemary must face 6th grade as the only Black student.

Things go badly quickly. Her arch-nemesis, Grace, is seated right next to her. The other kids don't know how to act arou
Abby Johnson
Apr 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
It's the last day of school, 1954, and Rosemary has just learned that next year she'll be going to a brand new integrated school. She's a little nervous about it, but everyone keeps telling her now nice this new school will be and how it's a great opportunity. Rosemary's sure she can handle it as long as her best friend J.J. is by her side. But then just before school starts, J.J. is stricken with polio and Rosemary learns that she'll be going to this new school by herself, the only black kid in ...more
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is a quick, interesting read about a school system in Missouri integrating in 1954. Rosemary, a smart, funny fifth grade class president at her black school has to deal with being the only African-American student in her newly integrated school. We witness Rosemary's struggles with prejudice in the classroom (in the form of Katherine, whose father is ironically an attorney who helps with civil rights cases), in the school system (while teacher and principal are wonderful, the placement offi ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
What I didn't like about this book: I don't think I got as much out of this book as I could've. It was a light alternative read as I was waiting for a book to come out of 'on hold'. I felt that at the end *spoiler* (view spoiler) I also felt that she didn't explore the relationship with J.J as much as she could've. It just seemed like she was: I AM FRIENDS WITH JJ END OF STORY. Especially since all they seem ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I love historical fiction books, so when I read this one, I was jumping for joy at how good it was. It gives an insight of what it was like for a kid to live during the mid 1900's, one quality of this book that I enjoyed. It was so sad what happened to Rosemary's friend after she started her new school. This book did have its flaws, something that was hard to look past through. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Amber Sage
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a heart-warming story about friendship coming from unlikely places. There is a new girl at a recently changed school. The school was transformed from an all-white school to an unsegregated school. This new girl, Rosemary Patterson, is the first African American to attend the school. This book is great for in the classroom. It provides a great story to read when discussing racism and the history of it.

McKissack, Patricia C. A Friendship for Today. New York: Scholastic Press, 2007.
Bernadette Kearns
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction set in 1950s Missouri after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. The main character Rosemary is a strong narrator, sharing not only her experiences in the integrated school, but also her struggles at home with friendships and family.

It's important to note the book contains the n-word, so students may need a heads up for the use of this word in the context of the time period.
Sadly it took news of her death to tune me into Patricia McKissack... but at least I have learned to appreciate her, even if after the fact.

This is a great book to show middle grade kids what life could be like in a segregated (and integrating) community - how difficult it was, the wide variety in experiences, the darkness and light that were revealed. It's also a reminder that, sometimes, people can change.
Bill Prosser
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Nice story based on Patricia McKissack's personal experiences in desegregated Missouri. Too many things happen in too short of a time period to the main character and that makes it seem almost unbelievable. Great for discussions on race relations. Vocabulary could be read by younger readers, but topics may be too much. Not my favorite by this author. ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-girl, j-historical
J This black eyed Susan nominee crams in a lot of 1950's history but in a well written, fascinating way. Eleven year old Rosemary will be attending a new school built for both whites and blacks in 1954 Missouri. This book takes on segregation, polio, adults having affairs, divorce, a runover but not dead cat, etc. It's based somewhat on the author's own experiences. ...more
A good story set in the time of Integration...not exactly the best book with this topic, but a good story nonetheless that gives kids an idea of the difficulties of merging societies. The story has an interesting convention--a look at two friends of different races who have similarities in their lives.
Anna Hartman
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a nice story about an African American girl who attends a mostly white school after the desegregation of schools. She finds unexpected friendships and accomplishes many things during her first year. The author note says that much of the story is based on her experiences attending school during this time and being the only African American in her class.
Reading with Tween Book Club.
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-aloud-books
Used this as my read-aloud book. Good theme. Good plot. Kept the students interested and listening. Set in the 50s, this had a lot of historical perspectives and up-to-date themes in it. Be aware, the n-word is used 2x (it's in italics). It's a California Young Read Award winner, just to throw that it in for emphasis. ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Wonderful tale of growing up just as schools were getting integrated -- influenced by the author's own life. Young and smart Rosemary heads off to her new school as the only black kid in her class and her experience is told honestly and beautifully by McKissack. Her friendship with J.J., who gets polio, is especially poignant. ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rosemarry is making history. She enrolls into what was an all-white school. She was prepared to face the challenges of being a black student along with her friend. One day it all changes for Rosemarry. Her friend is diagnosed with polio and she has to face school alone. This would be a great book for a class to read about life-changing situations.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this for a book discussion. Takes place in the 50's, written from the perspective of a 5th grade girl. Tells her story of going through the integration of the local schools. Touches on the racism that they children felt through their parents and how the kids were often better able to work through racism than the adults. Well written, great characters. ...more
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a time when segregated schools were just being abandoned, but old ideas were still the norm, Rosemary struggles with being the only African American student in her class. Her best friend J.J, paralyzed from the waist down with polio, and her tormentors seem to get worse. Will her classmates put aside old ideas and accept her?
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Patricia C. McKissack was the Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of The Dark-Thirty and Porch Lies an ALA Notable Book. She collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on Goin' Someplace Special (Coretta Scott King Award winner) and Mirandy and Brother Wind (Coretta Scott King Award winner and Caldecott Honor Book). ...more

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