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Children's LiteratureLinda Walvoord, author of a doctoral dissertation on Frederick Douglass, here shares, in chapter-book form, the poignant experience of Douglass's nine-year-old daughter, Rosetta, who became the first African-American student at Miss Tracy's Female Seminary in Rochester, New York, in 1848. On her first day at her new school, Rosetta is warmly welcomed by the other children, who clamor for Rosetta to play with them at recess and sit beside them in the classroom. It is the adults who are unable to accept an integrated classroom. Fearing parental protests—though only one parent, in fact, objects—Miss Tracy keeps Rosetta apart from the other students, forces her to learn on her own with no instruction, and even isolates her at recess. Rosetta ends up being educated privately, and finally enters Oberlin College at age fifteen. Nine years after her painful school experience, her father's unrelenting protests lead to the integration of public schools in Rochester. While this reads more like nonfiction narrated in the first person than a fully-developed, dramatically-realized story, the events it relates are an important and moving chapter in the history of racial integration. Velasquez's black-and-white illustrations do a fine job of showing both Rosetta's boredom and loneliness and her famous father's ultimately victorious pride and determination. 2004, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 6 to 9.
—Claudia Mills, Ph.D.