Booker T. Washington is often attacked for compromising with, rather than attacking, the political establishment, but in this handsome picture-book biography, the focus is on an amazing achievement in his youth, when he walked 500 miles from his West Virginia home “without a single penny in his pocket” to make it to school. Asim tells the story in spare free verse, beginning with Washington as a slave boy whose dream was to learn to read. Even when freedom comes, life is brutally hard: “he shoveled, hauled and packed,” working in a salt furnace and a coal mine. Collier’s dramatic, unframed illustrations in watercolor and collage include the unforgettable image of the young Washington staring through a window at white kids in the classroom. Then there is Washington’s journey; tired, hungry, and alone, he was always struggling to get to school. The climax is a close-up portrait of the adult Washington seated in a classroom with books, dreaming of sharing what his teachers have given him. Extensive back matter includes additional facts, a chronology, and a discussion about his enduring legacy. Grades 2-4. --Hazel Rochman
A School Library Journal
2012 Editor's Choice List
A Kirkus Best Children's Books List Selection
A Fall 2012 Parent's Choice Silver Award Winner
An NAACP Image Award Nominee
A 2013 CCBC Choices list selection
Praise for Fifty Cents and a Dream
*"Asim's lyrical text transforms the journey into a spiritual awakening for a young man who had 'a dream in his soul.' Collier is in brilliant Caldecott Honor style, using his signature watercolor paintings and cut-paper collage to incorporate elements from Booker's life and visions into each illustration...An outstanding achievement and a life worthy of note."—Kirkus (starred review)
* "Collier's patterned and textured watercolor and paper collage paintings perfectly mirror the narrative...An inspirational life, memorably presented."
—School Library Journal (starred review)
* "Collier's (Dave the Potter) sophisticated design elements will have readers revisiting his extraordinary collages...Asim's (Boy of Mine) lyrical narrative is succinct yet illustrative, and, combined with the artwork, makes an impressive addition to any biography collection."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Booker T. Washington is often attacked for compromising with, rather than attacking, the political establishment, but in this handsome picture-book biography, the focus is on an amazing achievement in his youth, when he walked 500 miles from his West Virginia home 'without a single penny in his pocket' to make it to school."
"Everything about the bookmaking here-from the carefully chosen typography to the look of parchment paper to the endpapers taken from Webster's American Spelling Book
-reverberates with the importance of books and learning."—The Horn Book
"Remarkable...[a] triumph in picture book design...told with poetic and soulful candor."—New York Times Book Review