Author: Hopkinson, Deborah
In 1847 St. Louis, Missouri, when a new law against educating African Americans forces Reverend John to close his school, he finds an ingenious solution to the new state law by moving his school to a steamboat in the Mississippi River. Includes author's note on Reverend John Berry Meachum, a minister, entrepreneur, and educator who fought tirelessly for the rights of African Americans.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: .5 Quiz: 182431
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 2.80
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 69003
Kirkus Reviews (+) (04/15/16)
School Library Journal (06/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/10/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2016 Gr 1–4—James, his sister, and his mother, a laundress, are free blacks living in Missouri in the 1840s, but being free does not give them equal rights. James and his sister attend school in the basement of a church. The secretive space is lit only by candles, but Reverend John, the teacher, tells James, "We make our own light here." A state law passed in 1847, however, makes it illegal to have any kind of school for "negroes or mulattoes," slave or free. Historical fiction based on the life of John Berry Meachum, the story describes how Reverend John got around the law by building a steamboat and holding classes on the Mississippi River, which was considered federal property. Husband, the first African American animator at Disney Studios, creates expressive illustrations that have the look and feel of the time period. Rendered mostly in brown and black tones, his detailed, cross-hatching style has the appearance of pen and ink. An author's note shares more of Meachum's life, describing how he worked in a mine to make enough money to buy freedom for himself and his father. Walking from Kentucky to Missouri, Meachum then worked as a carpenter and cooper in order to purchase his wife's and children's freedom. VERDICT Full of action and accomplishment, the story of James and Reverend John will impress and inspire readers. A powerful, well-written story to share with a class or with proficient readers.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.