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Open the Door to Liberty Hardcover – January 12, 2009


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Open the Door to Liberty + Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1000L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (January 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618605703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618605705
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,618,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—Toussaint, born a slave in the French colony of St. Domingue, led the first successful slave uprising in the Americas in 1793, defeating first the French and then the British and American opportunists who hoped to take advantage of the new country. The Haitian revolution is put in context with those in America and France, and its significance is made clear as Rockwell connects Napoleon's defeat in Haiti with his willingness to sell French Louisiana to the United States. Christie's bold, naive gouache illustrations invoke Haiti's beauty and savage history. The scene of Toussaint preventing a fellow revolutionary from unnecessarily killing a white man and the rendering of the bleak French prison in which the hero died are particularly striking. Altogether, this is a beautiful and captivating portrait of a leader whose story will probably be unfamiliar to most youngsters. Written for an older audience than Walter Dean Myers's Toussaint L'Ouverture: The Fight for Haiti's Freedom (S & S, 1996), it is a welcome addition to biography and history collections.—Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM
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From Booklist

In this eye-opening biography, Rockwell makes a strong case that Toussaint L’Ouverture is one of the most overlooked heroes of the eighteenth century. A freed slave of the French colony of St. Domingue (what we now know as Haiti), L’Ouverture was 48 when he was so inspired by his people’s uprising against the French that he joined them and, through his oratory and strategical skills, became their leader. In 1793, he led history’s first triumphant slave rebellion, but the resulting freedom would not last long. Eight years later, Napoleon sent troops to capture the island; the acumen of St. Domingue’s army, combined with the onset of yellow fever, decimated the French troops before L’Ouverture’s eventual—and mysterious—surrender. Rockwell biggest revelation: Napoleon’s onslaught was meant as a precursor to attacking the U.S.; instead, it ended the general’s career and led to the Louisiana Purchase. Evocative paintings in primary colors help tell the story (the rendition of Toussaint in prison is especially poignant), while biographies and source notes make up the excellent back matter. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gaou-Guinou and Pauline didn't have much hope for their "skinny, puny baby boy." In fact they didn't think he was going to live. A prophetic, "African-born slave" had predicted big things for this child, but it was obvious she was mistaken. When Francois-Dominique Toussaint (later named L'Ouverture) was a boy he didn't like being called "Little Stick" by his peers, but perhaps that was the type of taunting that shaped his character. His godfather noticed that he was "remarkably intelligent" and began to tutor him. Toussaint, as he was called, saw how cruelly some slaves were treated.

He was a thoughtful young boy and he read about Raynal, who predicted "one day a leader would rise up from slavery" and lead his people. The young boy began to dream that he would be that leader. When he was thirty-three, his master freed him. He was intrigued by "liberty, equality, and brotherhood," but it wasn't until he was almost fifty that he would begin to lead his people in battle. Toussaint "had led the first triumphant slave rebellion in history," but there were things on the horizon that could not have been foretold. The "Man of Destiny," Napoleon, had his eyes set on St. Domingue. He wanted to get rid of Toussaint and restore slavery by force. Could this little man survive the wrath of a man as driven as himself? Would slavery once again visit the island?

This was a fascinating biography of an unsung hero who deserves to be remembered around the world. St. Domingue, now Haiti, is a country that is seldom discussed in classrooms outside of geography lessons. Toussaint L'Ouverture, according to the author, struck her as a "genuine hero, only not myth or legend, but recorded history.
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