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Deidre's Book Reviews

The Gold Cadillac
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Taylor, Mildred D. 1987. Ill. by Michael Hays. THE GOLD

             CADILLAC. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.

             ISBN: 0-8037-0342-2

 

 

 

The Gold Cadillac is a story about a black family’s encounter with prejudiceness in the time period right after World War II.  The Mississippi family moved to the north (Ohio) to find industrial work.  The plot of the story involves the father of the family buying a shining, new gold 1950 Cadillac. 

 

 

 

Taylor shares her own personal memories of her father buying a new Cadillac when she was a young child.  The events discussed in the book focus on the lifestyle, concerns, and hardships that black families were faced with during the 1950s. 

 

 

 

By describing how the family members warned the father of the dangerous implications of him traveling to the South in the new Cadillac, the author succeeds in giving the reader insight into the tone and behavior that was common towards African Americans during that time period.

 

 

 

The black and white paintings throughout the book help to capture the events and show the emotions of the characters.  One of the best illustrations to portray the racial discrimination is a picture of the family riding in their new Cadillac past a “WHITE ONLY COLORED NOT ALLOWED” sign.  The parents are in the driver & front passenger seats of the car, with fear and distraught in their faces.  ‘lois and her sister (sitting in the back seat of the car) look out the window at the sign in confusion and amazement.   

 

 

 

 The narrator of the story is a young girl, ‘lois, who does not fully understand why it is unsafe for a black man to ride a new Cadillac to the South during that time.  Once ‘lois’s father got arrested and she sees the negative treatment being given to her family, she becomes aware and afraid. 

 

 

 

The prejudice events described in the bookwork to give the reader a background of how some people were treated in the past.  It opens the doors to many questions like, “why did black get treated differently?” and “what is prejudice?” 

 

 

Very cleverly, the illustrator, Hays, added nothing to more to the cover besides an appealing picture of a happy family surrounding a gold Cadillac.  The reader will expect to read about history when judging by the book’s cover.  This is good, considering that most young readers are not as interested in learning about history as they are about a new car.

 

 

 

Although Taylor’s fictional autobiography is a great book to discuss history, it also deals with family values and how family members stick together and look out for each other.  It was interesting to read about how the small families all lived together and were part of one big family.  This is another aspect that shows the difference in time periods. 

 

 

 

The young readers will also be able to identify with the young children in the story, who felt it important that everybody saw them riding around in their new Cadillac.  The ending result of the father selling the car involved the children realizing that it was not as important to be seen in a new car, but to have a happy family with their needs met all the same.       

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last updated: March 24, 2005