Dear Mr. Rosenwald by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie is the story of Ovella’s one-room schoolhouse and the community’s effort to build a new school for African-American children. The community must raise money for the school and then Mr. Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co will match those funds. The book demonstrates the struggle of a poor community to raise funds, the joy of accomplishment, and the wonder of a new school and learning. This picture book is done in verse with each two-page spread a combination of poem and picture. The book is well executed with the illustration and poetry enhancing one another. The illustrations have the feel of folk art, evocative of the effort and community that it took to build this school.
This is a picture book for older children and a very important one. It speaks both to the power of community and to the wealth of generosity. Modern day children need to understand the history of African American poverty and lack of schooling. Share this in an African-American history unit, a unit on schools or just to share a moment in history with children. Children aged 3rd grade and up will enjoy it most.