- Age Range: 6 - 9 years
- Grade Level: 1 - 4
- Lexile Measure: 1100 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0152018921
- ISBN-13: 978-0152018924
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dear Benjamin Banneker Paperback – September 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Banneker, an 18th-century astronomer and mathematician, was a free African American who corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about ending slavery. In a starred review, PW called this illustrated biography "a memorable portrait." Ages 6-10.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-This look at the life and times of the 18th-century black scientist is accompanied by Brian Pinkney's full-page masterful and luminous scratchboard/ oil paintings. Andrea Pinkney provides a basic outline of her subject's youth and years as a tobacco farmer, his passion for learning and interest in astronomy, and his decision to write an almanac. She focuses the account on an exchange of letters in 1791, when Banneker sent a copy of his newly printed almanac to Thomas Jefferson, then U.S. Secretary of State, and chastised him for keeping slaves. The reply sounds like a polite brush-off, and Jefferson made no acknowledgement of the dichotomy between his Declaration of Independence and his ownership of slaves. The quoting of these letters in the prose of the time forces the inclusion of vocabulary and syntax several levels above that of the audience for which the book seems intended. Although the bare-bones details are here, he does not come alive; while the art is lovely, the text offers just a glimpse at this remarkable man's accomplishments. The author states that the publishing of Banneker's almanac "showed everybody that indeed all men are created equal." Since the almanac reached a limited audience, one wonders how many people at the time even knew who Banneker was, or about his ethnic background. Although the book is more accessible to younger readers than Jeri Ferris's What Are You Figuring Now? (Carolrhoda, 1988), it may not hold their attention.
Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
a book about Molly's famous grandson. I have a biography of him for older children, but I am fascinated by these heroes
of the African-American background. This adds another to my collection, which I have in a prominent bookshelf for my
grandchildren when they come to visit.
He wrote Thomas Jefferson who penned the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal," sending with his letter the Almanac he was responsible for publishing, which more or less made unquestionable the equality of intelligence and humanity the African Americans who escaped from slavery, and questioned if Jefferson truly believed the words that he wrote. Why, then did Jefferson continue to have slaves? Jefferson wrote Banneker back, complimenting him, agreeing with him, but at that same time, it is uncertain whether it affected Jefferson's practices in owning slaves. It is not stated that Jefferson mistreated slaves, but still and all, the concept of owning another human being was something that Banneker questioned Jefferson on.
A powerful lesson in a simple format, every classroom in the United States, or any other country that has had African slaves, should have this book. Children should know the story and teachers should use this valuable historical lesson.