Freedom School, Yes!

Freedom School, Yes!

by Amy Littlesugar, Floyd Cooper

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Jolie has a lot to be scared about since the new Freedom School teacher, Annie, came to town. Bricks thrown through windows in the dead of night, notes filled with hate, and now a fire has burnt down the church where Annie was supposed to start teaching tomorrow! Without the church, how can she possibly teach Jolie and the other townspeople about black poets and


Jolie has a lot to be scared about since the new Freedom School teacher, Annie, came to town. Bricks thrown through windows in the dead of night, notes filled with hate, and now a fire has burnt down the church where Annie was supposed to start teaching tomorrow! Without the church, how can she possibly teach Jolie and the other townspeople about black poets and artists, historians and inventors? Unless the people themselves fight back.

In this triumphant story based on the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Summer Project, Amy Littlesugar and Floyd Cooper come together to celebrate the strength of a people, and the bravery of one young girl who didn't let being scared get in her way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The skilled author-illustrator team that introduced readers to 1930s Harlem in Tree of Hope here explores another dramatic chapter in African-American history: the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. In the summer of 1964, Jolie's family plays host to Annie, a 19-year-old white woman who has volunteered to teach Freedom School. The segregated community of Chicken Creek is rattled by this arrangement--blacks are skeptical of learning about their history and their heroes from a white stranger; whites are suspected of violent efforts (burning down the church, throwing bricks through windows) to drive Annie away. Despite the unrest and tension in the air, Annie helps open Jolie's eyes to her heritage and to the great test of courage that the Freedom School poses to all involved. Littlesugar personalizes the events of an era by colorfully detailing one girl's experience. Vivid imagery and realistic emotion will quickly grab readers' attention. But the story stumbles a bit, rushing to mention a list of African-American historical figures and slightly inflating Jolie's role in comparison to that of Harriet Tubman. Cooper's grainy-textured oil washes, as radiant as ever, depict the strength shining in faces of people newly enlightened. His portraits of various Chicken Creek residents capture their mix of fear, wonder, faith and determination. An author's note includes more information on the Freedom School project and the real-life heroes who inspired this story. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jolie has misgivings when her Mama agrees to board the new Freedom School teacher, Annie, in their Mississippi home in 1964. Her fears become a reality when a brick is thrown through their front window and later, when their church is burned. The people maintain their courage and not only rebuild the church but also construct a school. In the meantime, the nineteen-year-old white teacher from the north has been holding classes outdoors and telling her students about famous African-Americans. When Jolie needs to muster up courage, she is able to do so armed with the knowledge that Annie has disseminated. Cooper has masterfully created wonderful facial expressions for the characters of the story. An historic moment is eloquently captured here, in both text and illustration. Together, they convey the anxieties, anguish and determination of those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The author's note states that this story is a composite based on the experiences of several Freedom School teachers. 2001, Philomel. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This is a fictionalized account of events that took place during the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project in which more than 600 volunteers risked their lives to teach black children in the deep South "-'bout people and places-'bout who you are." Annie, a 19-year-old white teacher from up North, is staying with Jolie and her family, and the child instinctively feels danger. When vandals throw a brick through her bedroom window, she wishes the teacher would head home. After arsonists burn down the Chicken Creek Church, Annie holds the Freedom School under an old hickory tree and Jolie begins her journey toward knowledge, learning about Jacob Lawrence, Countee Cullen, and Benjamin Banneker. Gradually, the girl comes to care deeply about Annie's safety and to realize that fears must be overcome in order to win real freedom. Littlesugar has created a slice-of-life story with a potent message. Through Jolie's eyes, readers see the frightening violence of the 1960s South. The courage exhibited by the volunteers and the families offering them shelter is never minimized. Characters are fully developed; Jolie is very real in her apprehension and anger. The illustrations are masterful and lush. Cooper draws faces with exquisite strength and real pain. A unique and poignant look at a moment in history.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.95(w) x 11.33(h) x 0.27(d)
390L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Littlesugar lives in Columbia, Maryland.
When Floyd Cooper discovered children's book illustrating, he found a way to complement his career in advertising. An apprentice of Mark English, Mr. Cooper began his freelance career while still a student at the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, he made his way to Missouri, where he secured a position at a greeting card company.

Although Mr. Cooper was established in his position there, he felt somewhat stifled. He lacked the freedom and opportunity for spontaneity that he longed for as an artist and the joy that could be found in doing something that he loved.

Determined to break out of the mundane cycle he found himself in, Mr. Cooper relocated to the East Coast in 1984 to pursue his career further. It was there that he discovered the world of children's book illustrating and was amazed by the opportunities for creativity it afforded. Mr. Cooper was energized. The first book he illustrated, Grandpa's Face, captivated reviewers. Publishers Weekly said of newcomer Floyd Cooper's work, "Cooper, in his first picture book, creates family scenes of extraordinary illumination. He reinforces in the pictures the feelings of warmth and affection that exist between generations."

Illustrating children's books is very important to Mr. Cooper. He says, "I feel children are at the frontline in improving society. This might sound a little heavy, but it's true. I feel children's picture books play a role in counteracting all the violence and other negative images conveyed in the media."

Floyd Cooper resides in New Jersey with his wife, Velma, and their two sons.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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