|Oldest student : how Mary Walker learned to read|
Author: Hubbard, Rita L.
A picture book biography sharing the inspiring and incredible true story of the nation's oldest student, Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: .5 Quiz: 507316
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/01/19)
School Library Journal (01/01/20)
Booklist (+) (11/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/12/19)
The Hornbook (00/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2019 *Starred Review* Mary Walker was born in the South eight years before the Emancipation Proclamation. She always contributed to the household, from her youth of enslavement to her time as a sharecropper. Mary longed to read, but marriage, child-rearing, and work kept her so busy that she couldn’t fulfill her dream until she was a centenarian. When, at age 116, she was finally able to read her favorite book, the Bible, she was declared the oldest student in the nation. With simple, no-frills prose, Hubbard (Hammering to Freedom, 2018) recounts the story of this hardworking woman who lived through 26 U.S. presidents and experienced the end of slavery, as well as the civil rights movement. This is a work that points to the small contributions of African Americans that have made a big impact. Caldecott Honor Book author-illustrator Mora’s (Thank You, Omu!, 2018) cut-paper mixed-media style adds multiple layers to the narrative. The vibrant collage scenes feature flying birds (Mary always wanted to be as free as her winged friends) and squiggles on book pages that were indecipherable to her. Gradually, those squiggles morph into words, and readers will be as ecstatic as Mary when letters begin to appear, and the expressive faces and jewel-toned illustrations will inspire repeated readings. A lovely, inspirational picture-book biography about beating the odds and achieving your dreams. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2020 PreS-Gr 3—Mary Walker, born into slavery in 1848 on an Alabama plantation and freed at the age of 15, was accustomed to hard work and survival. She always wanted to learn how to read, but obligations to husbands, children, and time-consuming work obstructed any opportunity. Although Walker yearned to understand the meaning of the passages in the Bible, "words would have to wait." Finally, when she was past the age of 90 and had outlived her husband and her three children, Walker signed up for a literacy class. It wasn't easy; Walker "memorized the sounds each letter made and practiced writing her name so many times that her fingers cramped." Walker conquered her illiteracy with practice and determination and enjoyed reading in the final five years of her life. Hubbard's direct prose is inspirational. The idea that "you're never too old to learn" is well executed. Mora's collage and acrylic illustrations, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, complement the text and add emotional weight to the story. VERDICT An absorbing narrative and excellent illustrations combine to create a moving story of encouragement for youngsters.—Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.