cover image Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington

Jabari Asim, illus. by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-08657-8

The founder of the Tuskegee Institute is portrayed as a boy and young man who never gives up on his dream of an education. Going from illiterate slave to child worker to student, a near-penniless Washington walks an incredible 500 miles to attend school. Collier’s (Dave the Potter) sophisticated design elements will have readers revisiting his extraordinary collages. In one, a contemplative Washington sits in a clearing, as ethereal faces and hands—representing those who figuratively support him—fill the dark brown bark of the trees that literally “stand behind” him. “Booker listened/ and carried their dreams with him.” An artist’s note points out other symbolic touches (e.g., Booker’s shirt is made up of pieces of maps), while author notes and a time line flesh out the rest of Washington’s life story, including criticism that labeled him as too willing to compromise in the face of overt racism. Asim’s (Boy of Mine) lyrical narrative is succinct yet illustrative, and, combined with the artwork, makes an impressive addition to any biography collection. Ages 3–6. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Dec.)