Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story

September 20, 2017
Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story by Deborah Hopkinson

Hopkinson, Deborah. Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story. Illustrated by Ron Husband, Disney-Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2017.

Steamboat School is based on the true story of Reverend John Meachum’s resourceful circumvention of an 1847 Missouri statute that outlawed schooling for African Americans. This picture book sketches the evolution of Meachum’s secret school from its location in a cellar, through its closure by police, to its reincarnation on a steamboat floating on the Mississippi River, well beyond the laws of any territory. It is also the transformative story of young James, one of the students, who comes to understand the importance of small acts of courage. Detailed pen and ink illustrations animate the story, accenting a world whose darkness is made lighter through education. A 2017 first place Jane Addams award for younger readers.


Genre: Access to education, Approaching life with self-confidence and strength, Breaking cycles of fear, Desegregation of schools, History of Africans in the US, Non-violent activism, Overcoming prejudice, Power of literacy, Racism in the US, Solving problems courageously and non-violently, Thinking creatively and humanely about injustice and conflict past or present real or fictionalized, Young people as activists, Young people's participation in creative solutions to the problems of war social injustice racism sexism homophobia ageism and/or concerns of the physically challenged
Subjects: African American, John Berry Meachum, Mid 1800's, Robert Morris, Sarah Roberts
Illustrated by Ron Husband

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