A School for Pompey Walker

A School for Pompey Walker

by Michael J. Rosen, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Lynn Robinson
     
 


Pompey Walker dreams of going to school, but as a slave in the 1830s, this is only a dream, until slavery-hating Jeremiah Walker, son-in-law of the plantation owner, buys Pompey’s freedom. Together, they devise and carry out a plan to get money to found a school for black children. Inspired by a newspaper account of an Ohio man’s experiences, as well…  See more details below

Overview


Pompey Walker dreams of going to school, but as a slave in the 1830s, this is only a dream, until slavery-hating Jeremiah Walker, son-in-law of the plantation owner, buys Pompey’s freedom. Together, they devise and carry out a plan to get money to found a school for black children. Inspired by a newspaper account of an Ohio man’s experiences, as well as the recollections of former slaves, this tale recounts an unforgettable and harrowing journey of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Told in the vernacular of a self-taught former slave, this personal story of one of the darkest times in America's history is about hope and transcendence. Pompey's description of slave life and the terror of trying to escape with the help of his white friend Jeremiah is the subject of a gentle and emotional retelling years later to a group of school children gathered together on the occasion of the dedication of a school to Pompey. Pompey's one goal after his escape from slavery was to build a school for former slave children. With Jeremiah's help, he succeeds in building the school that he called Sweet Freedom in a small town in Ohio. Years later, a new school is built by the community and they name it Pompey Walker Elementary School. Colorfully illustrated, this book should be on every primary school reading list. There is plenty of opportunity here for extended learning.
Children's Literature - Wendy Ricci
Pompey Walker's life story is told as he speaks to a group of school children at the dedication of a school named after him. Vivid descriptions capture his unhappy, abused childhood on the Bibb plantation. Later he is auctioned to Jeremiah, the kind son-in-law of his previous owner, and smuggled to safety in Ohio. He realizes there are no schools for free Negro children and the two men decide to go into "business" to raise money to build a school. Pompey is auctioned off by his best friend no less than 39 times, and each time Jeremiah is able to help him escape. The money they were able to make with this scheme was later used to build a small school called "Sweet Freedom." Pompey Walker is a fictitious character whose story has been based on the actual voices of many elderly freed slaves.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Inspired by a true story, the creators of Elijah's Angel (Harcourt, 1992) rejoin for this harrowing tale of a young freed slave who, with the help of a white man, sells himself back into slavery-39 times-to raise money for a school. The narrative is cast as an address delivered by 88-year-old Pompey Walker to the children of ``his'' school in 1923. He describes a slave's bitter life, the escape to Ohio with his first master's son-in-law (who became a lifelong friend), and his decision (for which the word ``courageous'' seems too weak) to begin the deadly scam. The narrator's voice is startlingly clear and natural, that of an old man uncomfortable before so many listeners, self-effacing but proud of his accomplishment, and with his hatred of ``...the evil that was the whole of slavery'' undimmed by years. Rosen explains in an afterword that Walker is a composite figure, his memories drawn from various slave narratives, and his exploits based on those of an ex-slave named Gussie West. Using dyes and bold, sinuous lines to suggest the rich, transparent coloring and stylized figures of stained glass, Robinson's full- and half-page illustrations convey strong feelings through facial expressions and gnarled, slightly oversized hands. The text is long for a picture book, but even younger readers will be completely engrossed.-John Peters, New York Public Library
Hazel Rochman
Pompey Walker's amazing story is based on the life of Gussie West, a slave who sold himself into slavery again and again, escaped each time with the help of his white friend, and used the money to build a school for freed black children. It's an account of brutality and friendship, and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson's expressive folk-style paintings in colored pencils, inks, and dyes show the horror of whippings and the auction block as well as the triumph of cunning escape and loving community. Drawing on slave memoirs, Rosen imagines Pompey Walker telling his story, an elderly man remembering and talking to the children in his school. The commentary and digressions interrupt the story too often, but the narrative voice sounds authentic. What a story it is.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152001148
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/1995
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)
Lexile:
AD1170L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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