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The Education of Mary: A Little Miss of Color: 1832

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This fictionalized account, based on a real event in Connecticut in 1832, explores the differing reactions of two sisters after one of them becomes the first black girl admitted to the exclusive Canterbury Female Seminary.


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This fictionalized account, based on a real event in Connecticut in 1832, explores the differing reactions of two sisters after one of them becomes the first black girl admitted to the exclusive Canterbury Female Seminary.

30 review for The Education of Mary: A Little Miss of Color: 1832

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rishi

    I liked this book most of the way through. It kind of did a funny thing at the end when both of the main characters sort of had changes of heart and everything just sort of died. But becuase it is based on history I wouldn't be suprised if thats the way things really happened. It was fun to listen to. I liked this book most of the way through. It kind of did a funny thing at the end when both of the main characters sort of had changes of heart and everything just sort of died. But becuase it is based on history I wouldn't be suprised if thats the way things really happened. It was fun to listen to.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it ended up being more interesting than I thought it would be. There is even a little adventure and suspense! But on the other hand, the narrator, Mary, was not easy to like. She does get a lot of stuff thrown at her so I can't say she's wholly to blame, but the book ends with her acting on a rather bitter and vengeful note. It’s not so much what she did as the intent and malice that she did it with. Still, the story was very intriguing at part I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it ended up being more interesting than I thought it would be. There is even a little adventure and suspense! But on the other hand, the narrator, Mary, was not easy to like. She does get a lot of stuff thrown at her so I can't say she's wholly to blame, but the book ends with her acting on a rather bitter and vengeful note. It’s not so much what she did as the intent and malice that she did it with. Still, the story was very intriguing at parts. For me, the ending just made the whole thing feel unsatisfactory. That said, there are a lot of crazy and semi-crazy characters in this, so Mary emerges looking pretty good in comparison. In the author's note at the end of the book, Rinaldi says that she fictionalized the personalities and interactions of the girls at the school: "I found it difficult to believe that some twenty teenage girls remained silent, unbiased, unafraid, uninvolved, and submissive. These girls were human beings with the same emotions, needs, and potential of everyone else. So there, inside the school, I found my story." That sounds good on paper, but she kind of took it to the extreme. Many of the girls come across as slightly deranged, with a crazed martyr complex and desire to draw attention to their "cause" (a.k.a. themselves) through any means possible. I'm not sure I like the fact that she fictionally elaborated the stories of actual historical people, even if their real stories and personalities are not fully known (but maybe, as Rinaldi also says in the author's note, "taking liberties with minor characters in the historical text is what fiction writing is all about. [. . .] That is the job of the historical novelist."). But still, it's one thing to make up characters and place them in a historical setting, or take historical characters and expound on their personalities through research, and another to take a historical character and just reinvent them. Maybe that works in certain cases, but somehow it just felt disingenuous here. I also found it a bit hard to believe that people were actually gossiping about Mary and Stephen, when she was only thirteen—a mere child—and he was a grown man. But I guess people will gossip about just about anything. Also, I must have missed something, because I didn't understand why Miss Crandall opening the all-black girls' school was such a big deal, considering that references are made to Mary and her siblings previously attending a school with white children. Speaking of which, why didn't Miss Crandall just integrate the school—blacks and whites—instead of kicking the white girls out? It seemed like that was the root of at least some of the ill-will. I didn't hate this book, so my rating probably seems a little low. I would give it 2.5 stars if I could, but it doesn’t quite get a three star “I liked it” rating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    The story takes place in 1832 in Connecticut and is an excellent exploration of just how prejudice whites were against blacks even in the North prior to the Civil War. In this story Mary, 13, who is Black, is working at an all-girl's school. Only white girls are in the school at the time, so one of the two heads of the school tutors her while she does maid-type work around the place. Later her sister is admitted and, before long, the school is changed by those running it from an all-white school The story takes place in 1832 in Connecticut and is an excellent exploration of just how prejudice whites were against blacks even in the North prior to the Civil War. In this story Mary, 13, who is Black, is working at an all-girl's school. Only white girls are in the school at the time, so one of the two heads of the school tutors her while she does maid-type work around the place. Later her sister is admitted and, before long, the school is changed by those running it from an all-white school to an all-black school. One of the themes in the, the one about prejudice against blacks, comes into play at the time when various people of the town oppose this change, throwing dung on the school's door, refusing to sell anything to the school, taunting the students, throwing rocks at the students and so forth. A second theme involves the Underground Railroad, as we learn that not everyone in town is anti-Black and there are some who are actively involved in helping slaves escape from the South and journey north to Canada where they will find freedom. A third theme, unrelated to the first two, involves an older sister of Mary who has gone to work in a textile mill, and we get to see just how badly the women are treated there. Finally, a fourth theme again involves the school, but this time the reasons for it's change and just who is using who. Abolitionists are involved, and this increases the problems even more. Even with four themes in the book, the book works very, very well. It's a very interesting read and reveals a lot about the North and their attitude towards Blacks before the Civil War.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    A Ann Rinaldi is at her best when she writes about characters from the "middling" sort. Characters who are privy to history from the sidelines. In the novel, Mary is a mixed raced girl in who is a student at one of the first schools for girls of color in Connecticut. I once read that history is suppose to be somewhat strange to present day readers. It's a world who's ideas and beliefs have long since been overruled as outdated and at times draconian. As such, Rinaldi has skillfully recreated the A Ann Rinaldi is at her best when she writes about characters from the "middling" sort. Characters who are privy to history from the sidelines. In the novel, Mary is a mixed raced girl in who is a student at one of the first schools for girls of color in Connecticut. I once read that history is suppose to be somewhat strange to present day readers. It's a world who's ideas and beliefs have long since been overruled as outdated and at times draconian. As such, Rinaldi has skillfully recreated the world of 1832. She doesn't attempt to judge or edit the thoughts and actions of the people of that time period but merely presents them as they were. The girls at the school, Miss Crandall, Quakers, the towns people, all are portrayed as people and not politically correct pawns. Also themes of the antebellum period are represented: religion, women's rights, slavery, labor rights etc. Great book. "Sometimes good things are done for the wrong reasons. Don't ever look into a person's reasons or you'll always be disappointed. Just look at the good accomplished". Page 143

  5. 5 out of 5

    Magda

    Author's note: "Were they all modest, retiring, submissive, uncomplaining, long-suffering, and sacrificing? I found that difficult to believe." Um. Yeah. She did. And the book sounds kinda crazy as a result, with the narrator, Mary, sounding almost as prissy as the people she despises. Also, she refers to the "Quaker thee and thou," but does not ever seem to use "thou," and after a while it gets really annoying: p. 82: " 'Are thee ready, Mary?' " p. 83: " 'Thee is a Quaker, then?' " This was surp Author's note: "Were they all modest, retiring, submissive, uncomplaining, long-suffering, and sacrificing? I found that difficult to believe." Um. Yeah. She did. And the book sounds kinda crazy as a result, with the narrator, Mary, sounding almost as prissy as the people she despises. Also, she refers to the "Quaker thee and thou," but does not ever seem to use "thou," and after a while it gets really annoying: p. 82: " 'Are thee ready, Mary?' " p. 83: " 'Thee is a Quaker, then?' " This was surprisingly distracting and annoying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debora Yao

    the book was very intersting, it showed that colored girls could learn and go to school as white girls. It also showed that in old days, it was very hard for colored girls to learn. The part i liked the most is that Miss Crandall changed the school into a school for colored girls, she had alot of problemes but she never gave up, she did all her best to accomplish everything. The setting was in so many places but it took place mostly at the school where Mary and her sister go to, in Mary's house a the book was very intersting, it showed that colored girls could learn and go to school as white girls. It also showed that in old days, it was very hard for colored girls to learn. The part i liked the most is that Miss Crandall changed the school into a school for colored girls, she had alot of problemes but she never gave up, she did all her best to accomplish everything. The setting was in so many places but it took place mostly at the school where Mary and her sister go to, in Mary's house and other places.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book is a story about a young girl and her education. She starts out as a maid at a school for white girls. The head of the school teaches Mary in private. They both become very close through out the book. The head of the school decides to open the school up for african amercian girls. This enrages the whole town. They violently protest. This story shows how mary grows into a lady throughout the story. This boook was excelent.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shane Fritz

    It gives a good overview of differing viewpoints about people of color. While telling a carefully researched story about an actual school in Connecticut, the author has filled in with her imagination the dialogues and personalities of many of the characters.How sad that some of the same prejudice still exists today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I listened to the audio book when driving home from Colorado. The author, Ann Rinaldi, takes true historical facts and adds a story to it. It is a YA book about a black girl in 1832. A "colored school is opened for girls". It was good! I listened to the audio book when driving home from Colorado. The author, Ann Rinaldi, takes true historical facts and adds a story to it. It is a YA book about a black girl in 1832. A "colored school is opened for girls". It was good!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth Dailey Kenneth

    Great book that uses fiction to teach young readers about slavery, abolitionists, the Underground Railroad. Mary must make hard choices in her life but what a difference they make! This one is a quick must read!

  11. 5 out of 5

    MaryKay

    I learned about what happened to Mary and Sarah at Ms. Crandall's school. Educational for girls is a good thing. It's a shame when people fight against it. I learned about what happened to Mary and Sarah at Ms. Crandall's school. Educational for girls is a good thing. It's a shame when people fight against it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    An okay read, but not one of Rinaldi's best -- more at a href="http://bookhopping.wordpress.com/2009.... An okay read, but not one of Rinaldi's best -- more at a href="http://bookhopping.wordpress.com/2009....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Christensen

    This is an okay book about a woman that opens a school for "little misses of color," and the big fuss it causes in the era of the Underground Railroad. This is an okay book about a woman that opens a school for "little misses of color," and the big fuss it causes in the era of the Underground Railroad.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lafleur Meyers

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mariessa

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Kordsiemon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Miyuki

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Towe

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lithia

  24. 4 out of 5

    lani

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ari

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily Bailey

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Keilah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Rush

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