Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington

( 1 )

Overview

Booker dreamed of making friends with words,
setting free the secrets that lived in books.

Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who...

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Overview

Booker dreamed of making friends with words,
setting free the secrets that lived in books.

Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.

Award-winning artist Bryan Collier captures the hardship and the spirit of one of the most inspiring figures in American history, bringing to life Booker T. Washington's journey to learn, to read, and to realize a dream.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Pamela Paul
…remarkable…another triumph in picture book design…Fifty Cents and a Dream doesn't pretend to be a full-blown biography of Booker T. Washington. Instead it is a story about the desire for justice and the gift of education—squarely aimed at young school-age children, and told with poetic and soulful candor. School here is "magic," teachers are "the greatest marvels of all," and students who struggle and strive attain "wisdom." There is clearly a lesson in all this, and together, Asim and Collier make its value abundantly and inspiringly clear.
Publishers Weekly
The founder of the Tuskegee Institute is portrayed as a boy and young man who never gives up on his dream of an education. Going from illiterate slave to child worker to student, a near-penniless Washington walks an incredible 500 miles to attend school. Collier’s (Dave the Potter) sophisticated design elements will have readers revisiting his extraordinary collages. In one, a contemplative Washington sits in a clearing, as ethereal faces and hands—representing those who figuratively support him—fill the dark brown bark of the trees that literally “stand behind” him. “Booker listened/ and carried their dreams with him.” An artist’s note points out other symbolic touches (e.g., Booker’s shirt is made up of pieces of maps), while author notes and a time line flesh out the rest of Washington’s life story, including criticism that labeled him as too willing to compromise in the face of overt racism. Asim’s (Boy of Mine) lyrical narrative is succinct yet illustrative, and, combined with the artwork, makes an impressive addition to any biography collection. Ages 3–6. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Dec.)
Booklist

"Booker T. Washington is often attacked for compromising with, rather than attacking, the political establishment, but in this handsome picture-book biography, the focus is on an amazing achievement in his youth, when he walked 500 miles from his West Virginia home 'without a single penny in his pocket' to make it to school."
From the Publisher
A School Library Journal 2012 Editor's Choice List

A Kirkus Best Children's Books List Selection

A Fall 2012 Parent's Choice Silver Award Winner

An NAACP Image Award Nominee

A 2013 CCBC Choices list selection

Praise for Fifty Cents and a Dream

*"Asim's lyrical text transforms the journey into a spiritual awakening for a young man who had 'a dream in his soul.' Collier is in brilliant Caldecott Honor style, using his signature watercolor paintings and cut-paper collage to incorporate elements from Booker's life and visions into each illustration...An outstanding achievement and a life worthy of note."—Kirkus (starred review)

* "Collier's patterned and textured watercolor and paper collage paintings perfectly mirror the narrative...An inspirational life, memorably presented."—School Library Journal (starred review)

* "Collier's (Dave the Potter) sophisticated design elements will have readers revisiting his extraordinary collages...Asim's (Boy of Mine) lyrical narrative is succinct yet illustrative, and, combined with the artwork, makes an impressive addition to any biography collection."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Booker T. Washington is often attacked for compromising with, rather than attacking, the political establishment, but in this handsome picture-book biography, the focus is on an amazing achievement in his youth, when he walked 500 miles from his West Virginia home 'without a single penny in his pocket' to make it to school."
Booklist

"Everything about the bookmaking here-from the carefully chosen typography to the look of parchment paper to the endpapers taken from Webster's American Spelling Book-reverberates with the importance of books and learning."—The Horn Book

"Remarkable...[a] triumph in picture book design...told with poetic and soulful candor."—New York Times Book Review

The Horn Book
"Everything about the bookmaking here-from the carefully chosen typography to the look of parchment paper to the endpapers taken from Webster's American Spelling Book-reverberates with the importance of books and learning."
New York Times Book Review
"Remarkable...[a] triumph in picture book design...told with poetic and soulful candor."
Booklist
Booker T. Washington is often attacked for compromising with, rather than attacking, the political establishment, but in this handsome picture-book biography, the focus is on an amazing achievement in his youth, when he walked 500 miles from his West Virginia home 'without a single penny in his pocket' to make it to school.
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Here sits a barefooted boy leaning against a tree trunk, eyes closed, dreaming about reading. Here he is following his master's daughter to school, carrying her books, feeling their "magic seeping into his hands." Booker was born a slave, and slaves were forbidden to read. Emancipation came while he was still young. He worked with the men in his family, first shoveling salt, then in a coal mine. He learned to read from a spelling book his mother gave him. He attended the school for Negroes after work and dreamed of Hampton Institute, where he could study writing. He walked there-hundreds of miles through the mountains of Virginia, unloading ships in Richmond when his food money ran out. A janitor job at Hampton paid his room and board. Written in simply stated narrative, in a font that looks hand-printed, this story covers more of Washington's life and offers more detail than Marie Bradby's More Than Anything Else (Orchard, 1995), a brief, movingly told, beautifully rendered introduction to Washington for younger children. Collier's patterned and textured watercolor and paper collage paintings perfectly mirror the narrative, reiterating details and settings in handsomely constructed glimpses of the young Booker at school and at work; the teen-aged Booker traveling on foot toward a better education; the student dreaming of great things to come. His dreams are shown as luminescent bubbles or rays of light that reach toward the sky; his shirt is map-patterned. Two pages of biographical endnotes include a time line of his significant accomplishments. An inspirational life, memorably presented.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A former slave fulfills his quest for an education and much more in this superbly designed tribute to an oft-maligned African-American educator and author. The young Washington, who learned his letters from a spelling book his mother gave to him, hears about Hampton College in Virginia, over 500 miles away. With the help of neighbors who share their precious coins, he travels, mostly on foot, from West Virginia with hunger, cold and weariness as constant companions. Asim's lyrical text transforms the journey into a spiritual awakening for a young man who had "a dream in his soul." Collier is in brilliant Caldecott Honor style, using his signature watercolor paintings and cut-paper collage to incorporate elements from Booker's life and visions into each illustration. A map route is a design on his shirt, and letters and words from the speller he cherished decorate the pages. Each tableau is beautifully composed and balanced with textured colors and patterns. The cover display type and the endpapers, which are taken from Webster's American Spelling Book, embellish this ode to book learning. Washington's was not a life filled with anger and fiery oratory. Rather, Asim and Collier laud his steadfast determination and lifelong dedication to learning. An outstanding achievement and a life worthy of note. (additional facts, author's note, illustrator's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316086578
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 12/4/2012
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 253,691
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jabari Asim is an associate professor of writing at Emerson College and a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. He has written for the Washington Post and is the editor of the NCAAP magazine, The Crisis. He lives in Boston, with his wife and five children.

Bryan Collier began painting at the age of fifteen and earned a B.F.A. with honors from the Pratt Institute in New York. He has illustrated over 20 picture books and has won numerous awards, including three Caldecott Honors. He lives with his wife and children in Marlboro, New York.

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