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DEAR MR. ROSENWALD by Carole Boston Weatherford Kirkus Star


by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-49522-9
Publisher: Scholastic

Set in the rural south in the early 1920s, this terrific picture book uses evocative free verse to describe the building of a school for black children using seed money from Julius Rosenwald, the Sears catalog magnate. Weatherford explains how a Rosenwald grant worked: Local blacks had to make significant contributions (including cash and land) and whites had to provide funds, too. The daunting process is seen through the eyes of Ovella, the bright daughter of a close-knit family of poor sharecroppers. The narrative includes other voices of integrity, among them a former slave, Miss Etta May, who donates her burial money to the school so she can learn to read her Bible. Inspirational but never sentimental, Weatherford tells how the White Oak School opened with used books from the white school. Steeped in historical tradition, Christie’s expressionistic, double-page spreads combine simplified figures, flat expanses of bold color and big brushstrokes in a style that conveys the emotional content of the story. The author’s note highlights the importance of the Rosenwald schools in fostering black pride yet references only one—albeit, primary—source. Accomplished yet accessible, this is an important book for every library. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)