Dear Mr. Rosenwald by Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie, R. Gregory Christie |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Dear Mr. Rosenwald
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Dear Mr. Rosenwald

by Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie, R. Gregory Christie
     
 

Renowned illustrator Gregory Christie joins the Scholastic Press list with this empowering story about an African-American community who builds their own school.

Based on the true story of the Rosenwald schools built in the rural African-American South in the 1920s, writer and poet Carol Boston Weatherford tells the lyrical story of third grader Ovella as her

Overview


Renowned illustrator Gregory Christie joins the Scholastic Press list with this empowering story about an African-American community who builds their own school.

Based on the true story of the Rosenwald schools built in the rural African-American South in the 1920s, writer and poet Carol Boston Weatherford tells the lyrical story of third grader Ovella as her family and community help each other build a new, and much-prayed for, school.

Inspired by Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant and the president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., donated millions of dollars to build schools for African-American children in the rural South. The local African-American community were required to raise matching funds, secure [cont'd]

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus Starred
Set in the rural south in the early 1920s, this terrific picture book uses evocative free verse to describe the building of a school for black children using seed money from Julius Rosenwald, the
Sears catalog magnate. Weatherford explains how a Rosenwald grant worked: Local blacks had to make significant contributions (including cash and land) and whites had to provide funds, too. The daunting process is seen through the eyes of Ovella, the bright daughter of a close-knit family of poor sharecroppers. The narrative includes other voices of integrity, among them a former slave, Miss Etta
May, who donates her burial money to the school so she can learn to read her Bible. Inspirational but never sentimental, Weatherford tells how the White Oak School opened with used books from the white school. Steeped in historical tradition, Christie's expressionistic, double-page spreads combine simplified figures, flat expanses of bold color and big brushstrokes in a style that conveys the emotional content of the story. The author's note highlights the importance of the Rosenwald schools in fostering black pride yet references only one–albeit, primary–source. Accomplished yet accessible, this is an important book for every library

BCCB Starred
It's 1921, and Ovella, the daughter of African-American sharecropeers, goes to school in an old church, a cold, leaky, rickety structure divided into two classrooms by a sheet. When news comes that Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, is responding to the call of the Tuskegee Institute's Booker T. Washington by donating money for school construction, the hopeful community digs deep to meet the requirements, finding land and raising money for matching funds. Soon the building goes up, a playground is constructed, and the proud community celebrates its new school. The kids' first assignment? A thank-you letter to Mr. Rosenwald.
Weatherford tells Ovella's story in fourteen free-verse poems narrated by Ovella herself, compactly conveying a life where hard work is an everyday reality and solvency is a dream always deferred. The book's second poem, “Sharecropping,” imparts two pieces of news: that despite a good crop, the family is more in debt to their landlord than ever, and that there's a new baby on the way. Those strictures set up the key narrative question: “How on earth will poor people/ find money to give away?” What's important here, though, is not so much the how- selling crops from donated land, holding box parties, earmarking collection money at church- as the why- to find a concrete way to give these kids a better future. The church's donation of school land, “Land that would have been used for graves,” goes instead for the future: “Now, a seed is sowed instead.” Ovella's family has even more hope for this seed than the ones we grow, with Mama determinedly saying “This child will have a better chance” when baby sister Leona is born. Christie's sweeps of color convey the ramshackle nature of the current structures with their blotchy and uneven textures, while the people are vivid, intensely hues figures, grouped in strong configurations against the earthtoned landscape. The strong angles of building and roads that anchor many spreads are always punctuated and invigorated by large or small human groupings- by the people who created those very structures. The final spread celebrates both the new school, with its clean, solid walls, and the bell-ringing teacher who stands tall before it, summoning her students in and inspiring Ovella to follow in her footsteps.
Most contemporary American kids take schooling for granted, if they're not actively hostile. Between Christie's artistic vigor and Weatherford's quiet-spoken sincerity, this avoids becoming a preachy lesson about the importance of schooling, but the point is effectively mad

Publishers Weekly
Written in verse, this moving story narrated by a 10-year-old African-American girl in 1921 in the rural South follows a community's efforts to build a desperately needed school. Weatherford (The Sound That Jazz Makes) takes her inspiration for this fictionalized account from the actual construction (from 1917 to 1932) of more than 5,000 such schools, with financial aid from Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck. As the book opens, young Ovella describes the crude building that serves as a school and the "harvest break" from lessons, during which all children must help in the fields. But hope arrives in the form of a proposal from Rosenwald. The village's preacher explains, "Before [Rosenwald's] foundation will give a cent,/ you have to raise money on your own./ White folks have to pitch in, too." Christie's (Stars in the Darkness) stylized, boldly hued gouache and colored pencil art chronicles the community's efforts (the church donates an acre of land for the school; both black and white farmers donate lumber) as they collect money "a nickel and dime at a time." Then folks pitch in to build the school, and paint and furnish it. At the school's ceremonial opening, a new teacher tells the students they are "diamonds in the rough./ I will polish you bright as stars." Finally, Ovella pens a poignant thank you letter to Mr. Rosenwald, noting, "This school/ is the first new thing I ever had/ to call my own." A heartening sliver of American history. Ages 7-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
I for one did not realize what Julius Rosenwald, the President of Sears, Roebuck and Company had done for education. He donated money to found schools for rural African-American communities. There were some strings or requirements associated with the bequests—Rosenwald provided the seed money and the community had to obtain the land, raise more funds, and build the schools. There had to be participation by the white populace, and the state had to agree to continue to support the schools. Carole Weatherford tells the story of one particular school and the sharecroppers who had so little who worked so hard to raise the necessary funds, obtain the land, get lumber from black and white farmers, and the sweat of hard labor to build a school. The parents knew that education was the only way to escape the grinding poverty that held them bondage. The new teacher summed it up "Children, you are diamonds in the rough / I will polish you bright as stars." Also the letter written to thank Mr. Rosenwald is reprinted on the back jacket. The author's note is quite informative and it is amazing to learn that more than 5,000 Rosenwald schools were built. The art by Coretta Scott King honor artist Christie has a primitive look. At first glance it was a bit off putting, but as the story unfolded, it felt more and more appropriate. By a second reading, I was seeing more and more in the faces of the people and Christie's ability to reflect in his images the lyrical text.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Set in the rural South in the early 1920s, this simple, respectful story examines one community's efforts to build a new school for African-American children with seed money provided by the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Each spread features a prose poem told in the voice of a student. Readers learn about the difficult decision to accept the challenge-which the Sears Roebuck executive extended to more than 5000 communities-and then to build a decent schoolhouse for the children of sharecroppers and other poor families. Land, lumber, and labor were all donated or purchased cheap; cast-off books and furnishings from more affluent communities appeared; and within a year, the students who used to study in a drafty shack walked into the first building they could truly call their own. Christie's gouache and colored-pencil illustrations have the variegated look and stylized layout of collage art-a good complement to the child's rough-around-the-edges narration. An afterword explains Rosenwald's impact on thousands of poor black communities. An uplifting and inspiring story about the buildings that are all too frequently taken for granted.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Set in the rural south in the early 1920s, this terrific picture book uses evocative free verse to describe the building of a school for black children using seed money from Julius Rosenwald, the Sears catalog magnate. Weatherford explains how a Rosenwald grant worked: Local blacks had to make significant contributions (including cash and land) and whites had to provide funds, too. The daunting process is seen through the eyes of Ovella, the bright daughter of a close-knit family of poor sharecroppers. The narrative includes other voices of integrity, among them a former slave, Miss Etta May, who donates her burial money to the school so she can learn to read her Bible. Inspirational but never sentimental, Weatherford tells how the White Oak School opened with used books from the white school. Steeped in historical tradition, Christie's expressionistic, double-page spreads combine simplified figures, flat expanses of bold color and big brushstrokes in a style that conveys the emotional content of the story. The author's note highlights the importance of the Rosenwald schools in fostering black pride yet references only one-albeit, primary-source. Accomplished yet accessible, this is an important book for every library. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439495226
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2006
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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