Steamboat School

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Steamboat School is written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Ron Husband.

I always thought being brave was for grown-up heroes doing big, daring deeds. But Mama says that sometimes courage is just an ordinary boy like me doing a small thing, as small as picking up a pencil.

Steamboat School is based on the true story of Reverend John Berry Meachum (1789 – 1854). The African-American minister, entrepreneur, and educator was born in to slavery in Virginia but bought his freedom as well as the freedom of his parents and his wife. In 1847 Meachum was living in St.Louis when a law was passed in the state of Missouri prohibiting African-Americans from going to school. A firm believer in education, Reverend Meachum came up with a plan. The Steamboat School is based on Meachum’s “Floating Freedom School.”

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Deborah Hopkinson’s powerful book sheds light on a relatively unknown crusader for black rights. Husband gracefully employs crosshatching and shading throughout his black and white illustrations, setting a somber yet hopeful tone. The author’s note at the back gives some history and background information on the real events and of Reverend Meachum.

Emphatic, well-written, and beautifully illustrated; this is an important book and a must read.

If you’re interested in discovering more diverse children’s books check out The Logonauts!

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