dean-featured-two-friends-04Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass lived near each other in Rochester, New York. Susan was a champion of women’s rights, and Frederick a champion of African American rights. In this picture book, they meet in Susan’s parlor to chat and support one another. They prepare to go out and fight for what they believe in—after taking a break for a cup of tea.

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Reviews of Two Friends

Dean Robbins’ charming picture book depicts the true story of the historic friendship between two of America’s greatest 19th-century civil rights pioneers. Husband-and-wife team Sean Qualls and Selina Alko’s warm gouache, acrylic and colored pencil, collage-inspired artwork inventively illustrates the power of ideas. The book is an artful, cleverly crafted homage to progressive civil rights leaders as well as an inspiring story of friendship.

— Shelf Awareness

The spare text and evocative illustrations create a world where ideas and words matter and where Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, alternately scorned and revered by the public, come together for a quiet moment. Dean Robbins succeeds beautifully at creating a mood, and we get the sense that these two fiery figures found strength and renewal in each other’s presence. The masterful illustrations by husband-wife team Sean Qualls and Selina Alko capture the setting and the warmth and energy of the two characters.

— Isthmus

Repeated phrases eloquently underscore the parallels between their lives, emphasizing how both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass dared to think differently, spoke their hearts despite opposition, and worked tirelessly for a better world. Set against handsomely textured backgrounds, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko’s mixed-media paintings blend historical details with winsome touches. Whether neatly penned onto Anthony’s ink-splattered bloomers, reproduced in a dialogue balloon as Douglass speaks before a crowd, or incorporated into a collage on a tree, written words are seen throughout the artwork, underscoring the world-transforming power of language and the pledge, made by these two true-life friends at book’s end, to work together so that ‘one day all people could have rights.’

— School Library Journal

In remarkably economical prose, Dean Robbins demonstrates the enormous impact Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass had on history as they worked tirelessly toward their goals of securing fundamental rights for women and slaves. Bold colors lend an upbeat feel to the illustrations, while layers of paint and mixed media create subtle texture and depth.

— Booklist

A thought-provoking reverie. Stylized mixed-media art provides period detail, warmth, and inspiration.

— San Francisco Chronicle

The book tackles big issues like racism in an engaging and simple way that will inspire the next generation of civil rights activists.

— Today’s Parent

Dean Robbins deftly moves between Susan B. Anthony’s objectives and words to those of Frederick Douglass. The full-bleed artwork is embellished with swirls of script from their respective writings, a plus for both artistic presentation and content.

— Kirkus Reviews

A visually appealing primer on the civil rights reformers.

— Publishers Weekly

Beautifully written and illustrated.

— Winston-Salem Journal

One of the many strengths of the book is that it works for very young readers as an introduction to two important figures from American history, and it’s effective for older students learning about civil rights and the power of words. ‘Two Friends’ would make an excellent read aloud for small or large groups and is a recommended purchase for school and public library collections.

— The Nonfiction Detectives

Children who are learning about civil rights could surely use this primer about two of the movement’s huge icons: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Dean Robbins excels at including both individuals’ biographic information while simultaneously sharing their thoughts on civil rights. The story is intricately woven to capture the essence of life in the late 1800s. The engaging illustrations keep children entertained and wanting to know more.

— Kansas City Parent Magazine

Book of the Day, January 18, 2016

— Junior Library Guild

Perfect for beginning a dialogue with first graders on up about both women’s rights and civil rights. A good starting point for a more serious delving into these topics and this historic period.

— Pima County Public Library

‘Two Friends’ imagines Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass remembering their past struggles in the face of inequality and oppression and their efforts to master public speaking and writing in support of their causes. But it also depicts them as two amiable people sitting down to tea and cake in Anthony’s Madison Street home.

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A delightful book.

— Milwaukee Public Radio

The perfect book for teachers to read to a classroom of students between first and fourth grade to spark a discussion about commitment and dedication to a cause. The illustrations of the two leaders convey their passion and their willingness to do whatever it took to change minds.

— Sommer Reading

‘Two Friends’ is a wonderful read aloud for young kids just beginning to learn American history.

— Randomly Reading

Editor’s Choice: Essential Children’s Books for January 2016. An excellent historical narrative. I love that it shows Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass supporting each other’s causes as much as their own, and that their writings are lovingly incorporated into the illustrations.

— Riffle

Here is a book perfectly timed for this election year, about two fighters for equal rights. The illustrations are realistic with bold color, with some background parts showing swirls of words surrounding Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. There are parts of the Constitution and the speeches and articles each wrote. The book can start many conversations about Anthony and Douglas, what they did, how they fought for the rights we all now have.

— Teacher Dance

‘Two Friends’ is a gorgeous book. The illustrations are eye-catching and beautiful, and the text provides a wonderful introduction to important debates we have had throughout our history. While it does not sugarcoat the issues of injustice, it is simple enough for very young children to understand. Older children will almost certainly have some questions about the text: Why couldn’t Susan learn what boys learned? Why couldn’t Frederick vote? Those questions will open the door for parents to begin explaining important issues in ways that children can understand.

— Covered in Flour

Text is an intrinsic and important part of the art: Ideas percolate in the tea and rise into the air. Beliefs become an integral part of clothing and are worn for all to view.

— Reading Style Guide

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About me

I’m a children’s author who lives with my family in Madison, Wisconsin. Ever since I was a boy, and throughout my career as a journalist, I’ve idolized real-life heroes. My picture books are about people like Frederick Douglass, who fought to end slavery; Susan B. Anthony, who championed women’s rights; Alice Paul, who strove to get women the right to vote; and Margaret Hamilton, who broke barriers for women in science. Read more»