Virgie was always begging to go to school with us boys. "Papa, Mama, can I go too?" My brothers had doubts. School was seven miles away -- a long way from Mama. Virgie was scarcely big as a field mouse. How could she make the trip? And girls didn't really need school. But I got to thinking: Virgie was free like we were. Free to learn. And didn't girls need to know how to write and add too? Mama and Papa thought so. And one summer, they decided to do something about it. That was the year Virgie came to school with us boys. And she sure showed us!
Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard's grandfather was Cornelius "C.C." Fitzgerald. His brother Will told stories about their childhood to his daughter Jessie, who passed them along to the author. Inspired by these stories, Elizabeth visited Jonesborough, Tennessee, a town seven miles from where her grandfather grew up. There she learned about a school started by Quakers called the Warner Institute and wrote this story.
E.B. Lewis is the award-winning illustrator of such books as Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald, which was a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and This Little Light of Mine. He received the Caldecott Honor for Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes. E.B. Lewis lives in New Jersey, and you can visit him online at EBLewis.com.