From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6--The authors begin with an overview of slavery, and the informative text dispels misconceptions about the arrival of Africans in the New World. The text explains that they came not only as slaves but also as indentured servants, that they owned land and servants, accompanied European explorers and conquistadors, and were instrumental in settling North America. Full-page, black-and-white illustrations support the narrative. The research is not supported by a bibliography or source notes, and the lack of a table of contents and index makes it difficult for students to find specific facts. Barring these shortcomings, this well-written offering will stimulate interest and spark discussions.--Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC
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Gr. 5-8. The McKissacks take on a difficult and disturbing subject in this small history in the Milestone Books series, an account of the very first Africans who came to this country in the early seventeenth century: who they were, why they came, and what happened to them and their descendants. It is clear throughout how difficult it is to know what really happened ("probably" is a frequent qualifier in the text), but that's all part of the important story, "the facts blurred by centuries of neglect." What is known is that the first black citizens were not slaves, but indentured servants, like many whites. One fascinating chapter focuses on Anthony Johnson, who married a black woman and raised a free, successful family. But then racism became the law, and made only the blacks permanent slaves. The type is big and clear, with occasional black-and-white illustrations, but middle-graders will need adult help with the sweeping history, which includes an overview of slavery around the world. There's a useful list of "Virtual Visits" to four Web sites, including one on Anthony Johnson. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved