Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple
Vaughan, Marcia.

New York : Lee and Low Books Inc.,  2003
IL 3-6, RL 4.1
ISBN 1584300493
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Can you imagine not being allowed to learn how to read and write? Frederick Douglass once said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Somehow, young Henry Bell, an enslaved boy in the pre-Civil War South, had this same sentiment. He knew that if he or any other African American child were even caught with a book in their possession, they would be severely punished. However, curiosity gets the best of Henry Bell when he walks his young Master Simon to and from school every day. While the other children are writing on paper, Henry Bell uses bark. He finds a way to learn. Like any good thing that befalls any of us, we need the help of someone and something to bring it to pass. Henry Bell had the determination of learning to read for freedom, the strength of a sycamore tree and a courageous school teacher to help him realize his dream. Determination, strength and courage causes slave child Henry Bell to find the power hidden within books. However, what happens to Henry Bell and the northern school teacher will cause each of us to remember the cruel historical truths and be mindful that freedom to learn should never be taken from anyone or ever taken for granted.

Up the Learning Tree has won many honors and awards, including Best Children’s Book of the Year, 2004 Best Picture Book Honor, Honorable Mention (Myers Outstanding Book Award), and Storytelling World Award 2005. (prepared by Shiela Keaise, SCASL Children’s Book Awards)

SUBJECTS:     Reading -- Fiction.
                        Learning -- Fiction.
                        Slavery -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Teachers -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.
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