Reviewed by Esther.
So I have to be honest, I don't usually read many books like this - I mean unless I have to for school, I'm more of a fiction girl. But I was pleasantly surprised by this book.
It's actually a great book for everyone because not only does it tell the true story about a pretty amazing man called Robert Smalls (for the story lovers like me,) but it's also packed full of interesting fact pages about the civil war and slave ships in the 1800's (for the kids who love all that history stuff too.) Win win!
So, who was Robert Smalls?
Robert Smalls was a plantation slave born in Charleston, South Carolina. He had a hard childhood but was lucky because he was allowed to work in his masters house instead of on the plantations, where the work was much harder and the masters were meaner. As he watched "boys and girls his own age sold like animals on the auction block," he hated slavery more and more and began to dream of a different kind of life.
I don't want to give away spoilers so I won't tell you what happens exactly but I really like how the Author, Janet Halfman, tells Roberts story because the whole time, despite being a slave and having a terrible early life he comes across as so hopeful and determined. Even though he had never been properly educated he eventually became a very important person, fighting for the rights of slaves and all black people and in the fight to win the Civil War.
I've read lots of books about American hero's (mostly from the Civil rights movement and some about the Slave trade,) for school, but I had never heard of Robert Smalls before, so I really enjoyed reading about how he refused to accept his circumstances and had so much courage and bravery.
The information pages tell the reader lots of facts about slavery in the southern states and also the Civil War. There are even diagrams of the inside of a slave ship.
Another nice feature is throughout the book, the words that some of the younger readers might not understand are bolded and then put into a glossary at the back, which is super helpful.
I liked Duane Smith's detailed illustrations. Even though they are in black and white... His style reminded me a bit of Van Gogh's portraits, which I thought was pretty cool.
I think this is a great book for classrooms and libraries, but also for anyone who is interested in learning about Slavery and the Civil War. I learned a lot!
From Emily -
The strongest friends of the soul - BOOKS.