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Grade 4–7—Nearly identical to Amazing Grace (Tundra, 1997), this slightly updated version of the story of the hymn and its writer is beautifully written, evocative, and heart-wrenching. With an emphasis on John Newton and his years as a slave trader, Granfield shares how the events in his life led him to become an abolitionist, a pastor, and a writer of hymns. Some wording and details about the hymn itself and how it is used today have been changed from the original text, but the tone is the same. Also updated are details about the timing of the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. Information is included about the conditions on a slave ship and how individuals were bought or captured in Africa, but the focus is really on Newton and his life. No source notes or bibliography are included, though direct quotations from Newton's own writings are peppered throughout. Full-color, full-page illustrations add grandeur and appeal to the story. Rich in texture and color, the artwork is somber in tone and content, including depictions of captured Africans in shackles and the cargo holds of slave ships. Jim Haskins's Amazing Grace (Millbrook, 1992) offers more detail about Newton's life and is written in a more child-friendly manner. Lyrical and lovely, this is a solid addition to any collection.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA END
“The depth of research in the text is admirable and the prose tells the story without excuses or moralizing. Janet Wilson’s illustrations are equally exceptional; each page beautifully captures the era without affectation or melodrama.”
— Highly Recommended — Children’s Book Review Annual 1997