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Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color Hardcover – September 1, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Twenty-four sonnets tell the story of Prudence Crandall and her efforts to educate young African-American women in Canterbury, CT, 1833-1834. The school began as a boarding school for white girls; when two black women inquired about taking classes and Crandall agreed, the townspeople withdrew their daughters. As she accepted more black students, the town became more vocal in its resistance, poisoning the school water supply, refusing to sell it supplies, and charging Miss Crandall and others with a variety of "crimes." The sonnet format is challenging but compelling. Each poem addresses an individual aspect of the story; therefore, the tone and cadence change depending upon the person speaking or the event being depicted. The introduction gives essential information, but readers with no background will still need help understanding the political, social, and historical context. Cooper's pastel mixed-media illustrations sometimes illuminate the poems, but at other times seem solely decorative. His portraits for "Tao of the Trial" and "Miss Ann Eliza Hammond" are powerfully rendered, while the nature scenes add little to the poetic experience. The art's sketchiness, however, does suit the poetic form. There are empty spaces in the pictures just as the language of the poetry leaves openness for readers' interpretation. A heartfelt, unusual presentation, this book rewards patient readers.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Top Customer Reviews
Efforts by the townspeople to close the school intensified as they arrested and briefly jailed Ms. Crandall, harassed the students, stopped selling provisions to the school, and ultimately ransacked the building and set it on fire. Although the town succeeded in closing the school, Ms. Crandall continued to speak out about social justice across the country, and ultimately the town of Canterbury made reparations for their wrongful actions.
Elizabeth Alexander (poet for the 2009 inauguration of President Obama) and Marilyn Nelson (poet laureate of the state of Connecticut, 2002-06), use a series of carefully-crafted and beautiful sonnets to relate the story of Prudence Crandall and her students. The uncertainties of leaving home for a boarding school, the joys of gaining new knowledge, the frustration in encountering resistance from the town, and the fears of experiencing harassment are all captured in the powerful verses. Floyd Cooper's moving illustrations work extremely well in helping the reader to interpret the poems. This unique book of poetry provides teachers and parents with a new opportunity for teaching important lessons about discrimination, education, and U.S. history.
I was introduced to the book by Dr. Irene Hall, co-founder of Discovery Charter School in Newark, NJ, my Alternate Route Instructor, who had her students read the book prior to Pres. Obama's inaguration. She told us about the book and it's historical importance; therefore when I purchased it I knew what I was getting.
I must say I was not disappointed. The book was well written and put together to make such a sobering series of event interesting.