Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Judy's Journey

Go To

Judy's Journey is a 1947 children's novel written by Lois Lenski.

It tells the story of a family of migrant workers, the Drummonds, from the perspective of their 10-year-old daughter Judy. As the story opens, the Drummonds are being evicted from the home they have occupied as Alabama sharecroppers. Persistent rains have ruined the cotton crop and left the family ill-nourished and flat broke. However, Papa Drummond has an idea. He has managed to barter some of the family's meager possessions for a broken-down old car. The family of six—Papa, Mama, Judy, her brother Joe Bob, and the little ones, Cora Jane and Lonnie—pile in the car and go off in search of work as migrant laborers.

Their journey takes them from Alabama, through Georgia to Florida where they pick oranges, and then back up through Georgia to South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey, picking tomatoes, or beans, or apples, or whatever else is in season wherever they go. The family sleeps in a tent, and at one point, they pick up a goat named Missy. Judy struggles to help her father with picking crops and help her mother to take care of her younger siblings, while dreaming of simple things, like having a permanent home, having shoes, and being able to go to school.


  • Babies Ever After: Near the end, Mama has another child that she names "Jersiana" for their location. Then Missy the goat, whom the family didn't even realize was pregnant, delivers a couple of kids.
  • Barefoot Poverty: The Drummonds are so poor that the children don't have shoes. Judy is often envious of other people who have shoes, and embarrassed when she has to go to school barefoot.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • In the next-to-last chapter in New Jersey, Papa and Judy meet Madame Rosie the Fortune Teller again. Rosie demands to know if Papa has managed to scrounge up enough money to get the house that she promised to Judy.
    • Then in the last chapter the Drummonds wind up at the Gibson place, the Gibsons being a friendly family who gave the Drummonds employment for a while before a huge storm rolled in and wrecked their crops. Mr. Gibson hooks Papa up, recommending an abandoned farmstead for him and giving him a loan to help him complete the purchase.
  • Downer Beginning: The Drummonds are evicted from the crumbling shack that was their home as sharecroppers, and oh by the way, Mr. Reeves the vicious overseer seems to have killed Joe Bob's dog. But things get more hopeful when Papa returns with a jalopy and a plan to seek employment as migrant workers.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all that, the privations and humiliations of life as a migrant farm worker, living in a tent, being dirty all the time, the Drummonds get a small plot of land with the money Papa has made and some help from the friendly Florida family where they worked in an earlier part of the story. As the book ends, the Drummonds are building a house and planting some crops and Judy is finally getting to go to school permanently.
  • Foreshadowing: Judy meets a family that has been migrating for years and lives in an RV. She thinks how nice it would be to move around in that rather than living in a tent as her family is. Towards the end her father buys a cheap tourist cabin and is able to put it on wheels and rig up a crude mobile home.
  • Fortune Teller: Madame Rosie, a standard-edition fortune teller that Judy meets at a carnival. She reads Judy's palm and predicts that she'll eventually get a real home with a garden and a picket fence. Madame Rosie pops up again later, admitting that she's a fake who tells people what they want to hear, and telling a startled Papa Drummond that he needs to work harder and get Judy that house with a garden and a fence that she deserves.
  • Funetik Aksent: Used throughout. Judy and her family say stuff like "git" for "get" and "shore" for "sure". Towards the end, Judy meets a family of Italian migrants, with a mother who says "Yes, we make-a de beeg money."
  • Kids Are Cruel: On multiple occasions Judy is ridiculed by children who aren't as poor as she is. She is mocked by Florida schoolchildren when she briefly attends a school. She is cruelly rejected when she attempts to go to the party of a rich girl.
  • Multinational Team: At the New Jersey camp where Judy and her family stay near the end. There's Miiko, daughter of a Japanese family from California, this in a book written only a couple of years after Japanese-Americans were held in concentration camps. There's also a boy from Mexico, an Italian girl, and a "colored" girl named Coreena whom Judy helps after Coreena falls and gets a bloody nose.
  • Road Trip Plot: Judy's journey, from Alabama to Florida and back up to New Jersey, as Judy goes through hardships and struggles and meets people and has new experiences.
  • Wandering Culture: Migrant farm workers. Many are driven by desperation, like the Drummonds. Some do it more permanently; Judy meets one family that has been migrating for years and has earned themselves a rather nice mobile home to live in.