The Gold Cadillac

Book: The Gold Cadillac
Author: Mildred D. Taylor
Illustrator: Michael Hays
Publisher: Puffin, reprinted in 1998
ISBN-13: 978-0780780798 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0780780795 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0140389630 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0140389636 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 – 12 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Taylor, Mildred D. The Gold Cadillac (originally published in 1987 by Dial Books for Young Readers; republished in 1998 by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). It is 1950, and Lois and Wilma, two African-American girls, live in Toledo, OH, with their parents, Wilbert and Dee. Several aunts and uncles live nearby. One day Daddy trades in their Mercury for a brand new gold Cadillac. However, Mother doesn’t like the new car because the family is supposed to be saving up to buy a new house, so she refuses to ride in it, even to church. She and the girls walk! However, when Daddy determines to drive the Cadillac down to Mississippi for a visit to the grandparents and all the other relatives decide to make the trip too, Mother has to go along.

After they cross the Ohio River, the girls begin to notice something that they’d never seen before. There are signs saying, “Whites only—Colored not allowed.” Then just inside Mississippi, the gold Cadillac gets separated from the other relatives. All of a sudden, they hear a police siren behind them and stop the car. Two white officers get out of their car and accuse Daddy of driving a stolen vehicle. One of them puts him in the police car, the other drives the Cadillac, and they all head to the police station. The policemen take Daddy inside. Will Daddy go to jail? What will Mother and the girls do? And what will happen to the gold Cadillac?

This short account accurately portrays the kinds of situations that black people often found themselves facing in the South during the days of “Jim Crow,” as these two young girls from the North encounter racial prejudice for the first time. While race relations in this nation may not be perfect, it is good for young people to see the progress that we’ve made today as compared to how things “used to be.” The story also celebrates the strength of an African-American family. Mildred Taylor is best-known as the author of the Newbery Medal winning Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry and related books about the Logan family in Depression-era Mississippi. Even though the timing is a bit later, I have to wonder if the grandparents in Mississippi might not be the Logans.

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