Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Grade 1-3–Walter describes the childhood of Alec Turner, a slave who later ran away from a Virginia plantation and joined the Union Army. The boy is taught to read by Miss Zephie, the granddaughter of his owner. Based on a true story, this offering could have been a moving affirmation of the triumph of the human spirit, like Doreen Rappaport's Freedom River (Hyperion, 2000) or Elizabeth Fitzgerald's Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys (S & S, 2000). Instead, Walter presents a flat, bland account of a series of incidents: "One day, Alec and Miss Zephie were outside by the milk house. Alec was reading the primer. Mistress Gouldin rode up and surprised them…." Johnson's expressive paintings do give the characters life that the text does not. Turner's interesting story deserves a more riveting retelling.–Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. The power of this escape story, which is based on true events, is in the realistic detail about a child under slavery and in the storytelling that passes on the history. Alec is frightened when the Virginia plantation owner's granddaughter wants to teach him to read. But, with the girl's help, he secretly studies the primer--until the day the brutal owner discovers him. She slashes his face, and his blood drips onto the book. He takes the primer with him when he escapes to join the Northern army, and it remains with him when he later becomes a landowner in Vermont. Eventually, his daughter tells his story, and she gives the bloodstained primer to the Vermont Folklore Center, which has published this book. Walter's spare, dramatic words and Johnson's stirring double-page paintings present a glimpse of the history in a brutal world--the child's intense fear, his bond with his mother and with his blonde friend, and, finally, his triumph. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved