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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Two Friends

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

by Dean Robbins

illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko


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Two Friends

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

by Dean Robbins
illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Review posted April 19, 2016.
Orchard Books (Scholastic), New York, 2016. 32 pages.

Here’s a simple picture book telling a story from history about Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. The two were friends and both lived in Rochester, New York. There’s a statue there showing the two of them having tea. This picture book dramatizes one such occasion, mostly using it as an opportunity to talk about both of their lives and how similar they were.

The language is easy for children to understand:

As a girl, Susan wanted to learn what boys learned.
But teachers wouldn’t let her. . . .

Susan wanted something more.
She read about rights in the United States.
The right to live free.
The right to vote.
Some people had rights, while others had none.
Why shouldn’t she have them, too?

Susan taught herself to give speeches.
Some people liked her ideas about rights for women.
Others didn’t.

The similar language used about Frederick Douglass highlights their similarities.

Frederick grew up as a slave in the South.
Slaves had to do everything the master said, but Frederick wanted something more.
He secretly learned to read and write.
New ideas thrilled him.

Frederick read about rights in the United States.
The right to live free.
The right to vote.
Some people had rights, while others had none.
Why shouldn’t he have them, too?

Frederick escaped from his master and headed north.
He taught himself to give speeches.
Some people liked his ideas about rights for African Americans.
Others didn’t.

Beyond this, there’s basic information about how the two supported each other and were friends. And the pictures are marvelous.

A lovely introduction to the topic of equal rights for young readers.