Parents' Guide to

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away; Young Readers Edition

By Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Riveting bio is a great resource for teaching about slavery.

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away; Young Readers Edition Poster Image

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This riveting biography brings Ona to life as a conflicted young woman trying to survive through incredibly difficult circumstances. Her proximity to the Washingtons allows the authors an opportunity to explain complicated historical events and laws like the Fugitive Slave Law, the Three-Fifths Compromise in the U.S. Constitution, and the precarious situation of free Black Americans in the early republic. The writing in this adaptation for young readers is mostly clear and compelling, though there are a few surprising instances in which the attempt to explain a complex historical phenomenon winds up oversimplifying, distorting, or slightly misrepresenting the facts. For instance, one misstatement claims that after the Revolutionary War, Black loyalists were "completely abandoned" by the British, when in fact thousands were evacuated, many were given land grants in places like Nova Scotia and the Caribbean, and more than 1,000 wound up relocating to the newly established colony of Sierra Leone. While it's true that many Black Loyalists were not fortunate enough to flee with the British armies, and those who were left behind did indeed face repression, small errors such as this do a slight disservice to an otherwise incredibly educational and rigorously reconstructed work of history.

Still, Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge is a fantastic window into the successes and struggles of free and enslaved people of color in this period. It also deals frankly with some of the ugliest truths about America's founding and the deeply flawed men credited with its creation.

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