A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Told through many differing voices, this book examines the issue of slavery in a unique and thoughtful way. Despite the difficult subject matter the anti-racism message is undeniably strong.
Positive Role Models
Pervasive racism, as whites discuss how blacks don't have theintelligence or emotions of whites, characters admire the KKK, and ingeneral treat slaves as animals or dimwitted children.
Violence & Scariness
Whipping of slaves, a forced fight in which a slave loses an eye, the death of a baby in a rainstorm, a suicide, a son punches his father.
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Whites refer to blacks using the n-word.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the way slaves are treated is disturbing -- they are beaten into unconsciousness, treated like animals with no feelings, and separated from their families. Readers will encounter the whipping of slaves, a forced fight in which a slave loses an eye, the death of a baby in a rainstorm, and a suicide.
Is It Any Good?
This book's unique format creates a bit of an emotional distance that robs the novel of some of the raw power one might expect from the subject matter. Julius Lester tells the story in the form of snippets of scripted dialogue, thoughts, flashbacks, and quotes from an historical pamphlet that gives the names and prices of those sold at this auction. Though it sometimes can be a bit confusing when read silently, the format does make the story very accessible to elementary-age children, as does the author's careful avoidance of the more sensational and lurid aspects of the story.
The author skips from character to character, and time to time, never letting the reader identify too strongly with any one person. Perhaps the author felt this was necessary to avoid overwhelming young readers. In any case, this is a fascinating and engrossing look at a little-known historical event that encapsulates the institution of slavery.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.