Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jen's Five Kids' Books About U.S. Slavery

Reading through The Freedom Maze (see below) in preparation for a visit from Delia Sherman in mid-November, I was put in mind of other engaging books I'd read recently that took place in times of slavery, and the similarities and differences winding along their plot threads. Here are four books of historical fiction (two with time travel) and one of nonfiction, ranging from young adult novel to kids' picture book. Excellent, powerful reads!

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (AmazonEncore, $12.95)
Gemma, age 16-17. Lives in a rough part of Brooklyn in 2001, transported back to Brooklyn in 1863, where she works for a white abolitionist doctor and his family and must decide just how free she really is.

[Note: A Wish After Midnight is also one of Jen's April 2010 Picks.]

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House, $16.95)
Sophie, age 13-14. Lives in Louisiana in 1960, transported back to her family’s cane plantation in 1860, where she is unexpectedly taken for a slave and must work out how to complete the story whose ending will send her home.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum, $6.99)
Isabel, age 13. Raised in Rhode Island, resold with her sister to Manhattan, where she works for a loyalist family just before the Revolutionary War and must determine whether either side stands for her family or her freedom.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic, $7.99)
Elijah, age 11. First child born free in Buxton, a (real-life) settlement of former slaves in Ontario, Canada, where he works to lose his “fra-gile” image and must decide whether to travel south across the border to help a friend.

[Note: Elijah of Buxton also has a Staff Pick review on our website.]

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine (Scholastic, $16.99)
Henry “Box” Brown. Raised in Virginia, mails himself to freedom in Philadelphia in 1849 in, yes, a box, where he must keep very very still.

[Note: Henry's Freedom Box is also one of Mo's June 2010 Picks.]

November 2011, Jennifer Sheffield

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