From School Library Journal
Grade 3-7-A pictorial history of the one-room schoolhouse in the United States. Bial briefly discusses the emergence of public education in Massachusetts in 1647, and notes that the demands of rural life had an impact on the form of education on the frontier and led to the development of this type of facility throughout the country. The readable text describes a typical school day, the responsibilities of teachers, and some of the materials and textbooks available in the 1800s and early 1900s. Through a blend of historical black-and-white photographs and the author's own full-color shots, Bial shows the types of structures that served as schools. Although there is a certain sameness to the more recent pictures, they remind readers of just how ubiquitous these facilities once were. Most interesting are the glimpses provided of the inside of these buildings and the supplies that were used. The narrative is fairly straightforward, but the author has an undeniable fondness for this bygone bit of Americana. Pair this with Rosmarie Hausherr's One-Room School at Squabble Hollow (Four Winds, 1988; o.p.), which portrays a day in the life of a present-day school for a slightly younger audience.Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bial's photo-essays depicting the mostly rural American scene are always a visual and informative delight, and this one is no exception. In smoothly written prose, Bial recounts the history of the American one-room schoolhouse from the early 1700s to the 1950s. He discusses the reasons such schools flourished, typical methods of instruction and activities for students, and expectations for teachers. Clear, beautifully composed photos on every page transport readers back to bygone days. They range from shots of the exteriors of brick-and-frame structures and pictures of desks, coal buckets, textbooks, and dunce caps to artistic images that take careful advantage of natural lighting. Most are full-color depictions taken at sites near Bial's home in central Illinois. Several well-chosen black-and-white period photos showing children are also included. A good choice for units on pioneer life, with the bonus of browser appeal. Sources for further reading are appended. Kay Weisman