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Once on This River Hardcover – December 29, 1997
From Publishers Weekly
Despite "occasionally ponderous execution," said PW, this tale about an African girl's voyage to New York in 1760 to free her illegally enslaved uncle is "otherwise rewarding." Ages 10-13.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8?In this story set in 1760, 11-year-old Monday de Groot accompanies her mother from Madagascar to the woman's former home in colonial New York to prove that her brother, a free black man, has been wrongly sold into slavery. Leslie de Groot is a midwife and herbalist who earns their passage by acting as the ship's doctor. Monday's life to this point has been untouched by the evils of slavery, but as she moves amid the free blacks and the enslaved of New York, she is exposed to them in full measure. Uncle Frederick is ultimately freed, but along the way Monday learns the secret concerning her own birth and takes a stand to help free a young man who is in fact her brother. Period details are intertwined within the slowly moving plot. However, despite the descriptions of the lot of the slaves and the recounting of tragic events, Monday's story is ultimately uninvolving and fails to engage readers. Hints dropped early about Monday's true identity let readers realize long before she does that Leslie de Groot is not her birth mother. When Monday confronts the ship's captain at the story's climax and accuses him of being a slave to his thinking, his capitulation is simply too convenient and abrupt to be believed. Illustrated with prints from wills, newspaper notices of runaway slaves, bills of sale and the like, this is an earnest presentation that just somehow misses the mark. Sandra Forrester's My Home Is Over Jordan (Lodestar, 1997) is a much more compelling story. Wyeth's book does provide a good look at the time and place, and might be useful where historical fiction is in great demand.?Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.