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Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books) Hardcover – February 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 190L (What's this?)
  • Series: Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689800762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689800764
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,565,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Howard (Chita's Christmas Tree) plucks fruit from her family tree for this stellar story of an African-American girl determined to get an education just like her brothers. Narrated by the young C.C. (Howard's grandfather), the tale is set during Reconstruction, when schools sprang up all over the South to help educate the children of freed slaves, and it is based on the particular school attended by the real-life C.C. and his siblings in Jonesborough, Tenn. Virgie, the youngest of the siblings and the only girl, is determined to attend the school, despite the protests of her family ("You scarcely big as a field mouse. And school's seven miles from here!"). Finally, her parents acquiesce, sending her off with her five brothers with a week's worth of food and clothing in a bucket. Undeterred by a slip in the creek and a scary trek through the woods ("Didn't I tell you about Raw Head and Bloody Bones? Get you if you're not good, folks said. Might get you anyway"), Virgie is a radiant heroine. The easy flow of vernacular effortlessly propels the story, and Howard proves herself adept at plucking a large-scale episode from history and adapting it to the scale of a picture book. Lewis's (The Bat Boy and His Violin) luminous watercolors capture both the rhythms of C.C. and Virgie's rural existence and the story's emotional subtext, and his character studies fairly burst with life. Ages 6-8. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-The youngest and the only girl in a family with five boys, Virgie works hard to convince everyone she is old enough, strong enough, and smart enough to attend the school set up by the Quakers for recently freed blacks in Jonesborough, TN. By the end of summer, she has convinced her family that she can make the seven-mile walk to board at school each week and willingly handle the job of "learning to be free." The story is a superb tribute to the author's great aunt, the inspiration for this book. Howard crystallizes each of the family members, setting the protagonist snugly in the midst of annoying but loving brothers and wise parents. A note provides more information about the school and family. Lewis's watercolor illustrations capture the characters with warmth and dignity; the many double-page spreads evoke the vastness of both the land and the immensity of Virgie's undertaking. There is a blush of dialect and two thrilling references to Raw Head and Bloody Bones waiting in the woods to catch the children on their way to school. Youngsters will enjoy Virgie but it will be years before they can harvest all that is planted in this gentle tale. A worthy choice for read-alouds and independent reading.
Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jaan Troltenier on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys is notable for its subject matter and illustrations. The story concerns a young African-American girl in Post-Reconstruction Tennessee who hungers to follow her five older brothers to school; young African-American girls did not typically attend school during this time. The story is told in first person by one of the brothers, who is sympathetic to her cause. (Some of the brothers are against her accompanying them, and their comments add tension to the story--will their predictions come true?) The illustrations, watercolors by E.B. Lewis, provide an engaging yet gentle way into the text. The book provides a story interesting to young school age kids (is it possible that kids could actually yearn to be able to go to school?), and also an avenue to talking about social history. As a linguist, I especially liked the respectful yet accurate depiction of Black English Vernacular, which lends the book an evocative note. The book is 'officially' recommended for ages 4-8. Because of the history theme I would extend that to ten year olds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Yoder on October 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
?Girls don?t need school.? This is the initial tone for Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys in the beginning. This book is honest with its stereotypes and use of language (considering the time it is set in), yet liberal in it?s moral. This book is sharp in its interpretation of how life was immediately following slavery, yet daring enough to portray life honestly and frank. The illustrations are vivid and clear allowing the reader to perceive Virgie?s(the main character)exact environment. As you read the book, the pictures draw you into the story as if you are another sibling for one of her brothers to pick on. The emotions on each character?s faces are clear as if you can read their minds. The watercolors bring the characters to life right before your eyes and portray life as realistic as a picture. Any child would get lost in the beautiful art in these illustrations, as well as learn a little something about the importance of learning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on January 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
In VIRGIE GOES TO SCHOOL WITH US BOYS, a young girl is unable to go to school with her six brothers. After much begging, she finally convinces her parents that girls should be able to learn also and reassures them that she can travel the seven miles to the school run by the Quakers. Though one would imagine the journey is rough for a small child, little Virgie keeps up with her brothers and arrives at school with them, ready to learn.

While this story is loosely based on the author's grandfather (one of Virgie's brothers), it symbolizes what many blacks must've felt during the Reconstruction period -- the need to use education as a stepping stone towards freedom. As with a lot of his other books E. B. Lewis uses the watercolor medium for VIRGIE GOES TO SCHOOL WITH US BOYS. His illustrations perfectly complement the story, bringing the reader into each page, and closer to Virgie and her family.

Reviewed by Tee C. Royal

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marilynn Griffith on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My children always grow quiet with wonder when I read this tale of Virgie and her brothers, former slaves of the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. To learn to read and write, the boys travel seven miles each week to get to the school founded by Quakers (folks who love the Lord). They slosh through a river with their pail full of food and move silently through a dark wood. Their little sister Virgie longs to learn too and over the summer she lets everyone know it. After months of her prodding, Virgie's parents agree that she too is free and that even little girls needed to learn. Her big brother CC looks out for her on the trip (she falls in the river but doesn't cry) and enjoys her wonder upon seeing the school and the wonderful, beautiful bookcase full of books. "I'm going to read them all," she says touching them lightly. And from the wonderful writing of her descendant who wrote this book, we know that she must have. It's a beautiful story.
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