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Yuan-Liou Publishing Co.

Author: Marie Bradby
Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet

Gr K-3/Ages 5+
32 pages/picture book
8 ¾ " X 10"
ISBN #0-531-09464-2 TR
$15.95 US

ISBN #0-531-08764-6 RLB
$16.99 US

ISBN #94-48804 CIP W
$19.95 CAN

Orchard Books imprint of:
555 Broadway

New York, NY 10012
(800) 724-6527

  • Winner of the 1996 International Reading Association (IRA) - Children's Book Award
  • International Reading Association (IRA) Teachers' Choice 1996
  • Chicago Tribune Top 10 Children Books 1996
  • American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book 1996
  • Black History Top 25 Pick for Youth 1996
  • IRA Notable Books for a Global Society Award 1996
  • American Bookseller Pick of the List 1996
  • Book Links Salutes a Few Good Books
  • School Library Journal, Starred Review
  • International Reading Award (IRA) Notable Book 1996

"A fictionalized story about the life of young Booker T. Washington. Living in a West Virginia settlement after emancipation, nine-year old Booker travels by lantern light to the salt works, where he labors from dawn till dusk. Although his stomach rumbles, his real hunger is his intense desire to learn and read...Bradby's text is eloquent, presenting phrases and spinning images that capture the intense feelings in the story...All of the images, underscored by a dramatic use of shadow and light, work with the words to create a moving and inspirational story."
-Starred Review, School Library Journal

I was fortunate that my editor, Richard Jackson gave me an opportunity to illustrate this story. I had long admired the passion and drive of Booker T. Washington. When I first read the story I was struck by the poetic writing style of Marie Bradby. It is told with such honor and integrity. Marie and I finally met for the first time at the International Reading Association's conference where we both received an IRA Book Award for our contribution to this book. -Chris Soentpiet

"I wrote More Than Anything Else for my son, then five years old, who was beginning to learn to read. It was a wonderful time, watching and helping him learn. Reading is one of the most important skills that a person can learn, especially in this age of communication. So I wanted to celebrate my son's literacy--this very important time in his life." -MARIE BRADBY

"Soentpiet's beautiful watercolor paintings show individual portraits lit up front the surrounding darkness. Booker dreams of light of literacy and the freedom it will bring. The story will hold kids and make them want to find out more about the person and the history." -BookList

"An evocative text and dramatic watercolor provide a stirring, fictionalized account of the early life of Booker T. Washington." -Horn Book

Theme: MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE can be used to introduce your students to African-Americans, salt workers, slavery, the life of Booker T. Washington.

Pre-reading: Show the students the cover of the book, read the title, author and illustrators name. Ask them what they think the book will be about. Next show the illustration of the newspaper man writing Booker's name on the sand -- now what do they think the book will be about. Have the students look at an atlas of the United States. Find the Kanawha River (hint: West Virginia).

Reading: As you read and show the illustrations have the students look closely at the drawings. What details can they find in the pictures? Without reading, first have them look closely at the expressions on Booker's face. How do they change during the story? Ask the students how they think Booker is feeling. Don't forget to ask how they think Booker's mother is feeling when she hands him a book.

Interview: Booker, Papa and John work all day as laborers at a salt mine. Coal miners, river men, loggers and coppers all gather in town to hear the newspaper man. Talk with a laborer whose work is physically demanding. Write their story of how they became day laborer. If you cannot find a laborer to interview, look up books on the subject.

Geography: Have the students plan a trip to Malden, West Virginia. Ask them to estimate the miles, how long will it take, what they need to bring -- food, clothes, entertainment items, books etc. What do the think they will see along the way -- will the see rivers, mountains, lakes, deserts, plains, farms, factories, cities etc.

Science: Sweet potatoes and corn cakes are some foods Booker will eat. Discuss farming techniques-- where does the food come from? Where are sweet potatoes grown? Try growing plants in a variety of ways -- soil, hydroponics etc. keep a journal of their growth.

In the story Booker, Papa and John shovels salt all day. What happens when there is a small cut on their skin? Will the cut hurt when it touches the salt?

Social Studies: Spend more time reading about African-American history and explore the life of Booker T. Washington. Ask the students, why Booker and his brother were working and not at school? What was Booker T. Washington's accomplishment when he grew up? He founded what college?

Literature: Read JEREMIAH LEARNS TO READ by Jo Ellen Bogart, A HUNGER FOR LEARNING by Gwenyth Swain, BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: A MODERN MOSES by Lois P. Nicholson, MOMMA, WHERE ARE YOU FROM by Marie Brady. Look for other books by Marie Bradby and Chris Soentpiet. If you really enjoyed MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE write a review and post it on-line at or so others can enjoy your reading experience.

Bulletin Board -- have each student list what they want 'MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE"


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