Monday, February 11, 2013

Fifty Cents and a Dream Young Booker T. Washington

Horn Book (January/February, 2013)

The emphasis of this brief biographical portrait of Booker T. Washington is on his quest for knowledge: as a young boy living in slavery, wanting to learn to read, and then as a young adult attending the Hampton Institute. In 1872, with only a few coins in his pocket, Washington made the five-hundred-mile journey on foot to get to the school, working along the way to earn money for food. Once he was admitted, he worked as a janitor to pay his room and board. Asim's poetic text underscores Washington's determination to get an education and then to see to it that others would have the same opportunity. A fascinating author's note discusses Washington's political views -- especially his willingness to compromise -- as controversial among African Americans in his own time; the author also tells why he chose to focus on the journey to Hampton as symbolic of Washington's legacy. Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations show the powerful determination on his subject's face, while in many of the pictures, light, abstract shapes rise into the air above Washington, representing his dreams. 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. kathleen t. horning

No comments: