Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr.

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



Coretta Scott King Award-winners Charles R. Smith Jr. and Floyd Cooper deliver the compelling story behind the building of the White House, a powerful part of history rarely taught. The home of our president was built by many hands, several of them slaves', who undertook this amazing achievement long before there were machines to do those same jobs. With an insightful author's note and a list of selected resources, this book supports the Common Core State Standards.

Stirring and emotional, Cooper's stunning illustrations bring to life the faces of those who endured hard, brutal work when the profit of their labor was paid to the master, not the slave. The fact that many were able to purchase their freedom after earning money from learning a trade speaks to the strength of those individuals. They created this iconic emblem of America, brick by brick.


About Charles R. Smith Jr.

See more books from this Author
Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer, and poet with more than thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for illustration for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem "My People" and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his biography of Muhammad Ali, Twelve Rounds to Glory. He is the author of Rimshots, Hoop Kings, Hoop Queens, Tall Tales, Short Takes, Diamond Life, and I Am America. A father of three himself, Charles brings his love of basketball and baseball right down to the toddler set in Let's Play Basketball! and Let's Play Baseball! His recent work celebrates subjects he's been interested in since he was a kid, such as The Mighty 12, which honors Greek gods and goddesses. He currently lives in Poughkeepsie, NY, with his wife, Gillian, and their three kids. You can visit him online at
Published December 26, 2012 by Amistad. 32 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Brick by Brick

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

“Month by month, / slave hands toil, / planting seeds of freedom / in fertile soil.” An excellent title that provides an admirably accurate picture of slavery in America for younger readers.

Oct 31 2012 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Two Coretta Scott King Award winners pool their substantial talents in a somber tribute to the slave laborers who helped build the White House. Smith (Stars in the Shadows) emphasizes the toll that th

Nov 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

There’s a slight upswing in tone as Smith notes that the skills the slaves acquired opened new possibilities (“Skilled hands earn/ one shilling per day,/ reaching slave hands closer/ to freedom with pay”), but there’s little joy evident when the completed White House is unveiled.

Nov 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

City Book Review

“Slave hands swing axes twelve hours a day, but slave owners take slave hands’ pay.” This book made me feel sad for the slaves because they didn’t get much water or food.

Jan 15 2013 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

Common Sense Media

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.Find out more Parents need to know that Brick by Brick tells the often-forgotten story that slaves built the White House.

Dec 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

By teaching children the history of slaves building the White House, the book offers them an opportunity to deepen their understanding of this period of Americna history beyond traditional, sanitized images of farm and plantation work and period costumes.

Dec 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Brick by Brick

Reader Rating for Brick by Brick

An aggregated and normalized score based on 7 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review