A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
Ears cut off, bodies chopped up, a boy is mauled by wild dogs, none described in detail.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigars are mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are several references to cutting off slaves' ears to prove they are dead, and to a pile of ears, but nothing is described.
Is It Any Good?
This is one of those books that's probably more beloved by the librarians who give the major children's book awards than it is likely to be by actual children. To be sure, it introduces readers to a chapter of history with which they are probably unfamiliar, a chapter in which slavery and oppression are countered by nobility and selflessness. So it has educational and moral value, and could serve as an adjunct to a history class studying this period.
But it's not a book many kids will pick up and read for pleasure. The choice to write it in free-verse poetry, while appealing to reluctant readers, was an odd one for the subject, and the poetry itself is rather flat and prosy. Though it focuses on a few characters, one never really has a sense of knowing them as people, and there is little emotional impact. This is an adequate book on an interesting topic.
From the Book:
The slavehunter and his son
both stay away during the rains,
which last six months, from May
In November he returns with his boy,
whose scars have faded.
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Our Editors Recommend
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