When James first started school, his sister practically had to drag him there. The classroom was dark and dreary, and James knew everything outside was more exciting than anything he'd find inside.
But his teacher taught him otherwise.
"We make our own light here," Reverend Meachum told James.
And through hard work and learning, they did, until their school was shut down by a new law forbidding African American education in Missouri. Determined to continue teaching his students, Reverend John Berry Meachum decided to build a new school-a floating school in the Mississippi River, just outside the boundary of the unjust law.
Based on true events, Ron Husband's uplifting illustrations bring to life Deborah Hopkinson's tale of a resourceful, determined teacher; his bright, inquisitive students; and their refusal to accept discrimination based on the color of their skin.
About the Author
Deborah Hopkinson is the author of more than forty-five books for young readers including picture books, short fiction, and nonfiction. She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for picture book text twice, and in 2013 received both a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor and a Robert F. Sibert honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. Visit Deborah online at deborahhopkinson.com.
Ron Husband, the first African American animator at Walt Disney Studios, worked on films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame during his thirty-eight years at the company. His illustrations have also been featured in a number of children's publications. Ron lives in San Dimas, California, with his wife. They have three children and three beautiful granddaughters. Learn more about Ron's work online at ronhusband.blogspot.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s important for kids to recognize and appreciate all kinds of bravery and understand that many of their peers are called on to be brave in ways they may have never considered. History comes alive in the illustrations, and the story takes on special significance by being told by a young boy. Hopkinson shares the story of a heroic teacher by showing the effect he had on one child. Seeing this slice of history through James’ eyes provides a window into this time and place. It’s a great tribute to teachers who find a way to teach and reach children who face obstacles of all kinds. It also opens up the door to discussion on the importance of education and why people were/are willing to risk so much. As a writer, I absolutely love the way Hopkinson shows bravery in small acts. The use of the pencil as the instrument of courage and opposition is brilliant. Ordinary people, ordinary objects, ordinary acts – courage isn’t always what we might think. To me, the heart of the story is in the quote, “We make our own light here.” Hopkinson uses various images of light and threads them through the story, creating a truly beautiful telling.