After his son helps him learn to write his name, Samuel T. Blow goes to the courthouse in his Southern town to cast his ballot on the first election day ever on which African Americans were allowed to vote.
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Beginning her career as a teacher in her native state of Texas, Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert has also worked as an assistant school principal and a reading specialist. With this vast experience, it is no surprise that she has also found a second career as a children's book author. In books that include Off to School, The Shaking Bag, and Papa's Mark, Battle-Lavert portrays young lives steeped in African-American culture and history. O "Every family has a recorder," Battle-Lavert once told Something about the Author. "I happen to be the one for my family. Hearing my Mama tell about her life has strengthened me. Her stories have given me the self-esteem, pride, and love that tells me who I am and sustains me as I strive to be the best I can be." Born in 1951, Battle-Lavert eventually gained her teacher's certification, and began her long career as an educator in 1974. Two decades later she embarked on her second career as a children's book author with The Barber's Cutting Edge, published in 1994. Noting that writing is not an easy job, Battle-Lavert once commented: "The more I read, the better my writing becomes. I enter my first draft into the computer, then go back and rework the words I wrote days, weeks, even months before. The stories become better, and better, and better." "I want students to know that reading opens up the world to them," she added. "It's a journey that will last them a lifetime." She lives in Indiana.
Colin Bootman has illustrated many books for young readers, including two books by David A. Adler : A Picture Book of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., A Holiday House Reader. He lives in New York City.
Grade 2-5--This story revolves around the descendants of freed slaves struggling to assert their right to vote after the Civil War. Despite being legally enfranchised by the Fifteenth Amendment, many roadblocks still stand in the way of black men like Samuel T. Blow: functional illiteracy, the lingering bigotry of the white men in power, and the spiritual paralysis born of many years spent with no rights at all. But Samuel's young son, Simms, helps his father learn to read and write his own name, which gives the man the courage to lead their community to the polling place on Election Day. Battle-Lavert employs regional colloquialisms and a simple narrative structure to tell her story, and Bootman's dense oil paintings evoke the mood and setting of the period. An epilogue covers the politics and other complications that kept African Americans from voting as freely as whites before 1966. Minor problems arise in the text, however, as when it suggests that Samuel--who has only recently learned to read and write his own name--could manage a written ballot without help. Since the plot focuses on his illiteracy, it seems a bit facile for the text to imply that learning to sign his name was the only educational hurdle for him to clear. Nevertheless, this is a powerful story with a lot to offer to young readers.--Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
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Book Description Holiday House, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX082341650X
Book Description Holiday House, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P11082341650X
Book Description Holiday House. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 082341650X New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0896362