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Black Pioneers: Home Is with Our Family Hardcover – December 21, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The historical facts are even more gripping than the fiction in this novel set in 1850s New York City. In the first chapter, Maria Peters, 13, is inspired when she hears Sojourner Truth deliver a thundering abolitionist speech in church. In the last chapter, Maria and her family must leave home when the city destroys their black community to make room for Central Park. At times, the narrative bogs down with the details of the huge cast of characters trying to organize resistance to the displacement. But the heartrending abolitionist story is made personal with Maria’s new, quiet friend in school, Anna, who turns out to be a fugitive hiding from the slave-catchers. Anna’s parents earned their freedom down South but Anna still belongs to the slave-owner, and her parents could be arrested for stealing her. So could Maria, for helping Anna. Woven throughout, the history of Central Park adds to the story’s underlying questions about the meaning of roots and displacement. Small, delicate illustrations by Lewis add interest at the opening of each chapter. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman

About the Author


Joyce Hansen is the author of several books for children and young adults, receiving the Coretta Scott King Honor on four occasions. Her books includeI Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly,One True Friend, andHome Boy.She presently lives in South Carolina with her husband writing full-time. Visit her website at http://www.joycehansen.com/index.htm



E.B. Lewis is the acclaimed illustrator of many award-winning picture books, including the 2005 Caldecott Honor Book,Coming on Home Soon. He has won four Coretta Scott King Illustrator awards for his work on books such asTalking About Bessie, by Nikki Grimes andVerivie Goes to School With Us Boys. Mr. Lewis teaches illustration at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, and is a member of the Society of Illustrators. He lives in Folsom, New Jersey. Visit his website at http://www.eblewis.com/illustration/eblewis.html
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Black Pioneers
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; 1 edition (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786852178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786852178
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,684,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Yana V. Rodgers on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Maria Peters wanted nothing more for her thirteenth birthday than to attend an abolitionist meeting and hear the passionate and eloquent Sojourner Truth speak about freedom. Her entry into adolescence brought even greater awareness of the realities around her in New York City when she heard news that the city government was using its power of eminent domain to take over an enormous parcel of land in central Manhattan to create a park. All the renters and squatters who lived between 59th and 106th Streets, in between Fifth and Eighth Avenues, would be evicted from their homes. Property owners would be compensated with what city officials deemed to be a fair value for their land.

Maria and her family lived in a free black settlement within this large tract, and they were convinced that the amount of money the city had offered for their properties was too low. With her excellent writing skills, the community needed Maria's help to draft a petition and begin to fight back. At the same time, Maria met a new friend, Anna, whose own problems seemed to dwarf the troubles that Maria could not seem to keep herself out of at school. Would Maria be able to get past her own inclinations for trouble and help those around her who needed it most?

This middle-grade work of historical fiction builds upon real events surrounding the removal of a free African American settlement from land marked for creation of New York City's Central Park. Although the plot moves somewhat slowly, the historical context provides an interesting opportunity to talk about property rights and the ethics of government expropriation of land for the public good.
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A Kid's Review on July 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed rerading this book! Home is With Our Family is about a 13 year old girl named Maria. She lives in a free, all-black community in NY during the 1830s. Soon, her parents and neighbors get a letter saying the government is forcing them to leave their homes and will only pay a fraction of what they are really worth. The city needs their land to build Central Park. At first, Maria is feeling quite sorry for herself, but she soon meets a girl named Anna and can't even believe how selfish she was. Maria must find a way to save Anna from the chains of slavery, but how much can a little girl do? Read to find out! This book made me cry and laugh,and I really felt sympathy for the characters. It was a gripping story, page after page. It was also educational and some of it was true.I learned more about slave-catchers and how New York forced people out of their homes to make Central Park. I would recommned this book to anyone! READ!
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