- Age Range: 4 - 7 years
- Grade Level: 2 - 3
- Lexile Measure: 930L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 21, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618737391
- ISBN-13: 978-0618737390
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.1 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Phillis's Big Test Hardcover – March 21, 2008
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"A powerful introduction to the first published African-American poet." Kirkus 3/15/08 Kirkus Reviews
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Top customer reviews
Written by Mia M. Rogers (Raphael Rogers 10 year old daughter)
In the opening to this book, I thought the author was being sardonic, writing, "The teenage poet consented to be cross-examined by eighteen of the most learned and powerful men of Massachusetts."
As if true consent is something a slave gives without complication. Like, really? That's okay? A white person during that time would have been free and clear to publish their own work, whereas Wheatley (her true name is never mentioned - just her slave name) has to prove her own existence - not just producing but validating her own work? Humiliating.
Just once, the author points out - "Why should she have to defend her own verse?"
This is something that we still force black and other women of color and disabilities to do TODAY - they produce work, they declare existence, and white people need it to be verified and validated, ripped apart, and tone-policed before it becomes valid. I thought THAT was the point of this book.
One star because the book exists - I wouldn't have know about Wheatley without it. Negative four stars because of the white savior nonsense that takes up 90% of the book.
"Her first winter was so very cold and awful. She survived only by the kindness of her masters,"
Maybe her first winter wouldn't have been so cold and awful if she wasn't KIDNAPPED AND SOLD AS A SLAVE. She didn't survive because of her masters, she survived DESPITE them.
"They taught her not just religion, but a love of the King's English.[...] And soon she was reciting her poems to the Wheatley's friends."
Okay, so they trained her for entertainment. How generous. How GREAT that she is kept as a slave but hey she learned to love English, so it all balances out! (THIS IS SARCASM BECAUSE - WHAT?!) As if she couldn't have gone on to do great things and create poetry in FREEDOM.
Throughout the book the author treats Wheatley's enslavers as kind and generous benefactors, as if being educated in writing is some huge gift, as opposed to treating her like a basic human being (which they did not - she was still a slave and bound to do their bidding.)
What the actual what, you guys. Not okay. Stop. Teaching someone how to read and letting them write poetry in the few hours when they aren't doing your bidding for zero pay is not kindness. The tone of this book is disgusting.
But in 1772, Wheatley's book almost didn't get published, because printers in colonial Boston could not believe an African-born enslaved girl wrote such wonderful verses all by herself. To prove her poems were her very own, the teen poet agreed to be questioned by eighteen of the most learned and powerful men of Massachusetts.
Here's to Phillis and all the women still having to prove themselves, everyday. ❤️ #kidsbooksworthreading #kidsbook #kidsbooks #kidsbookstagram #kidlit #childrensliterature #philliswheatley #internationalwomensday
I had never heard of Phillis Wheatly before her briefly being mentioned in an adult biography on George Washington. I was so please to find this picture book at the public library to share her story with my daughter, even though her ending was not what I had hoped for.