Readers meet a forward-thinking woman whose name ought to be widely known but isn’t.
Sarah E. Goode was born a slave, the daughter of a skilled free carpenter who “could build anything.” Sarah acquired her father’s woodcraft skills, and, after emancipation, she moved to Chicago, met and married African-American stair builder Archibald Goode, started a family, and realized her dream of owning her own furniture store. Working alongside Archibald, she fashioned a piece of furniture that would make efficient use of space for her customers whose big families were crammed into small living quarters. A desk by day, Sarah’s cabinet bed unfolded into a bed at night. Her first attempt to secure a patent failed because others had already patented components of her design, but with some legal help and revisions to her application, she received the patent for her cabinet bed in 1885, becoming the first African-American woman to be granted a patent. The succinctness with which Kirkfield tells this story emphasizes Goode’s drive to succeed despite obstacles. The illustrations, which have a smooth, digital patina, show her strength and resolve to build something that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The presence of her children also suggests that she passed her skills on to them. An author’s note provides further historical context and explains a patent.
Sarah Goode: a name well worth knowing and celebrating. (timeline) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)