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.)Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
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, OHCopyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.