Steamboat School


By Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by Ron Husband

Formats and Prices




$24.99 CAD




Hardcover $18.99 $24.99 CAD

When a Missouri law shuts down a school for Black students, one boy must find a path to bravery in this award-winning picture book, based on a true story of resilience.
James wasn’t excited to go to school—everything outside was loud and exciting, but the classroom was dark and dreary. Luckily, his teacher Reverend John Meacham wasn’t so bad. He shared stories about being enslaved, buying his freedom, and building a life.
“We make our own light here,” he said.
Until the day the school was shut down by a law forbidding African American education in Missouri. What could James do? Reverend John Berry Meachum didn’t give up though. With steamboats swaying on the Mississippi River, and a spirit of determination, the Reverend found a loophole—what if the school wasn’t in Missouri?

Based on true events, Ron Husband's uplifting illustrations bring to life Deborah Hopkinson's tale of a resourceful, determined teacher; his bright, inquisitive students; and their refusal to accept discrimination based on the color of their skin.


  • "A heartrending book that will inspire readers of all ages to better understand the history of discrimination."
  • "Gentle yet forceful, it’s an affecting tribute to an unsung crusader for equal rights and education."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "An unforgettable story that needs to be known."

On Sale
Jun 7, 2016
Page Count
40 pages

Deborah Hopkinson

About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is the author of more than seventy books for young readers including picture books, short fiction, and nonfiction. She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for picture book text twice, and in 2013 received both a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor and a Robert F. Sibert honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. Deborah invites you to visit her online at

Ron Husband, the first African American animator at Walt Disney Studios, worked on films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame during his thirty-eight years at the company. His illustrations have also been featured in a number of children's publications. Ron lives in California, with his wife. They have three children and three beautiful granddaughters.

Learn more about this author