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I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865 (Dear America Series) Hardcover – October 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Joyce Hansens Coretta Scott King Honor book (Scholastic, 1997) is set in South Carolina in 1865 just after the Civil War. Lame, shy, and afflicted with a stammer, 12-year-old Patsy hides her ability to read and write–recording her thoughts and observations secretly in a journal. Her diary, written during her first year of freedom, expresses both her tremulous path towards personal selfhood (typical of all 12 year olds) as well as the growing political awareness, courage, and self-determination of the community of freed slaves. Through reading to others and teaching the freed plantation children their letters, Patsy begins to lose her stammer and discover her vocation. SiSi Johnsons reading of the diary perfectly captures the young girls voice and the cadences of post-Civil War South Carolina. Barbara Rosen reads the books epilogue and historical notes. Listeners will want to have the book at hand to view photographs, drawings, and maps that detail and illuminate the era. This well done audiobook has enough suspense to hold the attention of preteens while providing an enriching experience for students studying the Reconstruction period.–Emily Herman, Mary Lin Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

The life of a black girl during the period of Reconstruction is depicted through the thoughts, fears, and observations recorded by Patsy in her secret diary. From the giggles of her high spirits to her softer tones when she mentions the man she has a crush on to her sadness and fear as so many of her "family" leave the plantation, Sisi Johnson perfectly nuances Patsy's hidden emotional life and mirrors her day-to-day existence as the world she knows falls apart all around her. Hope and excitement build, and are dashed, as so many of the promises that are made during Reconstruction are never brought to fruition. What, Patsy wonders, does freedom mean in a South left shattered by the Civil War? W.L.S. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Library Binding edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590849131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590849135
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Melanie on October 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly" was a great novel on a recently freed girl, Patsy, who lives on a plantation. She's different from the other slaves there, though - she can read and write.
Patsy stutters and walks with a limp, and because of that, everyone thinks she is dull witted. However, she certainly isn't, because she learned to read and write. Her secret is revealed, and she becomes a teacher to the children on the plantation. In the meanwhile, the other people at the plantation are leaving with newly found family, and she wonders if her family will ever come. What will happen to Patsy?
This was an excellent book on slavery for ages 10 - 14, and I'd also recommend "A Picture of Freedom", "A Wolf by the Ears", and "Letters from a Slave Girl", other books on slaves that can write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joanna M VINE VOICE on April 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Not only is 12-year-old Patsy a slave, but she's also one of the least important slaves, since she stutters and walks with a limp. So when the war ends and she's given her freedom, Patsy is naturally curious and afraid of what her future will hold.

Although she and the others are technically free to do as they choose, their former owners are reluctant to do that. So, as long as they remain on the plantation, they all know their lives won't be any different.

With that in mind, the slaves slowly begin to leave -- seeking long-lost relatives, or starting over in a brand-new place. Patsy, who arrived on the plantation with a group of men as a toddler, has no idea who her parents are. With a sick feeling in her heart, she enviously watches other families reunite, knowing that no one will come for her.

Even so, Patsy's too busy to feel sorry for herself long. Now that slavery's ended, she and the others are free to learn, and they're eager to get a school established on the grounds. But problems with securing a teacher force Patsy to reveal her secret -- some time ago, she learned to read and write. Soon, Patsy is enjoying a newfound importance as her fellow ex-slaves depend upon her, affectionately calling her "Little Teacher" -- and helping her gain the confidence to embark on a new life of her own.

This book is an excellent way to get anyone, from children Patsy's age to adulthood, to understand just what freed slaves endured as they struggled to make the huge transition from captivity to independence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really thought this was a great book. I liked the way that it portrayed the life of Patsy in a diary type way. The story is about a slave girl named Patsy who knows how to read. She learned by listening to the children in the house during thier lessons. When the slaves where freed, they were promised that a teacher would come to the plantation to teach the children as well as the adults to read and write. When there was trouble with getting a teacher, Patsy decided to teach the childern and who ever else wanted to be taught their abc's and how to write them. She discovered that she was a good teacher and when she finally left the plantation she went to school and became a teacher herself. I think this is a very good book to have children read so they can get a feel of what it was like in the times of slavery and right after they were freed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book for many reasons, all of which are more complex than the basic plot. The overall theme of the story is huge: what it means - for anyone - to be free. Historically, Patsy's tale explains that once the Civil War was over, slaves didn't necessarily just walk off the plantations; they didn't always know where to go or what to do. Next, literacy is essential to and cherished by Patsy. We modern readers take it for granted that we know how to read yet it was illegal for slaves. Also, how we are given or choose our names connects with the book's theme of freedom. Patsy wants no part of her name to be associated with the misery of the Davis Plantation, so she ponders throughout the book what a suitable replacement will be. She is, after all, free to do that. Other reviewers have complained about lack of action, or a slow plot. I recommend thinking of the action as being cerebral, and in that regard it is action-packed. Joyce Hansen wrote a beautiful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ana Mardoll TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I Thought My Soul Would Fly (South Carolina) / 0-590-84913-1

Of all the Dear America books, I believe that this one is the most historically accurate, well-written account to date. I especially recommend this book as a superb insight into the plight of "ex"-slaves immediately following the Civil War; this fictional diary shows clearly that the "free" slaves were in many ways no more free than before.

The diary format is believable and well-written here; where the other Dear America books sometimes falter over the diary format, "I Thought My Soul" provides excellent reasoning for why the narrator has access to writing materials and why she keeps her thoughts in a potentially dangerous diary. Young Patsy quietly and aptly describes life on the plantation in the wake of the Civil War: the rising hopes and dreams, and the disappointing crescendo when it becomes clear that their masters intend to treat them the same as before. The slaves are quiet, firm, and resolute as they calmly demanding legal marriages, proper wages, fair education, and the right to raise their own children as they see fit.

The challenges the ex-slaves face are legion, from Southern gangs harassing freemen, to former masters who force illiterate men and women to sign "contracts" which aren't worth the paper they are written on, to Northern 'liberators' who help round up freemen and force them to work off their lodgings before being allowed to leave the plantation. It's made very clear that this new, indentured slavery is indistinguishable from the old slavery.

Patsy slowly, painstakingly, teaches herself to read and write, not unlike the real Phyllis Wheatley. And when the masters refuse to provide a teacher for the young children, despite their "contract" which states otherwise, Patsy teaches the young children herself. The love of learning here is tangible, and serves as a reminder that our privilege of literacy is a privilege indeed.

~ Ana Mardoll
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