Brick by Brick (By Charles R. Smith Jr., Illustrated by Floyd Cooper)

Published in 2013

AGES 5-8

Brick by Brick tells the story of how the White House was built. Many of the workers were slaves, who if they were “skilled hands” they could earn a shilling a day to earn their freedom. The author Charles R. Smith Jr a Coretta Scott King award winner said of the book that the focus of the story is on the slaves’ hands because there was no machinery to make the materials or to build the house-the White House was made by hand. Smith does a wonderful job of incorporating the slaves’ names within the book to bring them to life and to show that they mattered, and they were important to American history. Smith weaves a story with his words that will get kids asking questions as he writes:

“Month by month, slave hands toil painting seeds of freedom in fertile soil.”

Floyd Cooper who is also an Coretta Scott King award winner artist uses his art to express a powerful message in the last few pages when the building is completed to show the people who helped to make history and to construct a building that will become one of the most famous residences in the world that these builders will not be forgotten.

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