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Out of Slavery: The Journey to Amazing Grace Hardcover – August 11, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 1070L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887769152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887769153
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I love Linda's other two book's which are based on the stories of poems and the lives of the authors. I was intrigued to hear the story of the man who wrote the legendary hymn "Amazing Grace".

This is a beautiful book, both visually and the story it has to tell. First of all, even though this is a picture book, it is not for small children. The recommended age is 9-12 and I'd add anyone over 12 as well. The story is intense. John Newton lived in cruel times and he participated in them as much as anyone else did. This book brought home to me how much we human beings are a product of our times, no matter how "good" one thinks oneself to be. Ms. Granfield does not hold back on any of the cruelty of the slave trade, and we are talking the British colonial slave trade here, but she does not resort to graphic detail, she does not need to. The simple truth and brief glances are more than enough to convey this horrid piece of history, while the haunting paintings only add to the reality.

John Newton comes across as a "nice" man, even a "good man" of his era. Here we see moral relativism in action. He is certainly a "better" slave trader than most of his contemporaries, not crowding his ships, while others filled their ships with "cargo", he called them "men" & "women" and perhaps this had something to with his own fifteen months he spent kidnapped and serving as a slave himself in the West Indies or his own religious beliefs he was brought up with. It was this life, his own suffering, the suffering he saw and the suffering he caused that turned him into an evangelical minister and writer of hymns, including the most well-known hymn in the world to all denominations, Amazing Grace. A poignant, hard-hitting story which will make the hymn even more meaningful to its singers once they know how it came to be. This book will be a keeper for my shelves.
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Format: Hardcover
Deftly written by Linda Granfield, "Out of Slavery: The Journey to Amazing Grace" is the true story of John Newton, former slave trader and ship's captain who found redemption during a storm in 1748, when his slave ship, the Greyhound, was threatened with destruction. John Newton prayed for salvation and he promised that if spared, he would renounce the lucrative business of slave trade forever. When his prayers were answered he went on to fight slavery, becoming an Abolitionist, and finally, he wrote the beautiful song, "Amazing Grace." "Out of Slavery" is a meticulously researched nonfiction account of an amazing man's experiences during a time of great change and social upheaval. It is tastefully illustrated by the paintings Janet Wilson in full color depicting some of the historical events described. One of the most moving parts of the book comes at the end in quoting his epitaph: "John Newton, Clerk,/ Once an infidel and libertine,/ A servant of slaves in Africa,? Was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour/ Jesus Christ,/ Preserved, restored, pardoned,/ And appointed to preach the faith he/ Had long laboured to destroy..." "Out of Slavery" is recommended for all ages above 6.
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