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Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit By Me!

Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit By Me!

by Linda Walvoord, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator), Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
"Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit by me!" That’s what the white girls at Miss Tracy’s Female Seminary yell when Rosetta, Frederick Douglass’s nine-year-old daughter, shows up on the first day of school. But things don’t turn out the way she expects.


"Rosetta, Rosetta, Sit by me!" That’s what the white girls at Miss Tracy’s Female Seminary yell when Rosetta, Frederick Douglass’s nine-year-old daughter, shows up on the first day of school. But things don’t turn out the way she expects.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Linda 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.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This chapter book is based on the life of Rosetta Douglass, daughter of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. It's Rosetta's first day of school at Miss Tracy's exclusively white Female Seminary in Rochester, NY. Although the students are excited to have the nine-year-old in their class, Miss Tracy does not share their opinion and isolates the girl from her peers. Rosetta has to do her lessons, eat lunch, and play at recess alone. She endures this treatment for two weeks, until her father confronts the principal and begins his fight to desegregate the school district. After Rosetta is dismissed from the seminary, the story continues with her education in Albany and her father's fight for equal schooling, her eventual move back home, and the beginning of her teaching career. While this is a significant historical account that will spark curiosity about the subject, the story attempts to cover more ground than the book's brief length can adequately develop. The abundant biographical information at the end of the story as well as the time line and list of primary and secondary resources help to fill in some of the gaps. For the most part, Velasquez's charcoal artwork supports the story; however, two illustrations in which Rosetta's mother is portrayed with a bandanna on her head have a slightly stereotypical feel. Still, this is a solid purchase that explores an individual who has yet to be discovered in juvenile literature, and opens opportunities for research.-Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A small slice of history on a very big plate. Walvoord takes the story of Rosetta, the oldest daughter of Frederick and Anna Douglass, in a few weeks at a private school and turns it into a chapter book. When Rochester public schools insist that Rosetta attend the "colored" school across town, Mr. Douglass enrolls his daughter in a nearby private school. When the nervous girl arrives on the first day, the headmistress insists that she learn and play by herself. Though the students and most of the parents stand behind Rosetta, one parent doesn't, so the headmistress expels her. With an older Rosetta reflecting on her life, readers do feel her pain and humiliation, but much of the emotion is lost in the leaden prose, filled with gratuitous references to Frederick Douglass. Walvoord has done her research-and the story feels like a vehicle for it-rehashing much of it in the 20-plus pages of endnotes and four-page time line. A nonfiction picture book would have been a better format for this interesting bit of civil rights history so that invented dialogue wouldn't have been necessary. (historical notes, timeline, author's notes, primary and secondary source references) (Fiction. 6-10)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.50(d)
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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