Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys

by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard and E.B. Lewis

In a picture story set shortly after the U.S. Civil War, Cornelius tells about the... read more

In a picture story set shortly after the U.S. Civil War, Cornelius tells about the Quaker school he and his four brothers attend so they can learn to read and write, skills that had been denied them in slavery times. When their little sister, Virgie, insists that girls need to know how to read and write, too, the family agrees that she can accompany her brothers when school starts up again in the fall. On the first day of school, they must get up early so that Virgie and her brothers can make the seven-mile walk to school. They walk across fields, past farm houses, and even through the scary woods where they keep an eye out for old Raw Head and Bloody Bones. Virgie is clearly delighted by everything she sees and is anxious to get started on “learning to be free.” This fine tribute to the African American struggle for education, based on the author’s own family history, can also be read as a warm family story which revolves around a strong-willed little sister. Sun-dappled watercolor paintings portray all five of the siblings as unique individuals. Honor Book, CCBC 2001 Caldecott Award Discussion (Ages 5-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2001

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