Gr. 3^-6. When Phillis Wheatley arrived in Boston as a slave girl in 1761, no one could imagine that she would go on to become an internationally known poet--and the first black American ever to publish a book. From her first days in the Wheatley household, Phillis was encouraged to learn to speak and read English, and, most importantly, to write. She soon began to compose poems--though, sadly, none of her poems is included here in full--and at the age of 17, only 10 years after her arrival in America, Phillis had begun publishing in the colony newspapers. Weidt's biography in the Creative Minds series provides excellent historical background, explaining in simple, well-written text the concept of slavery and the political conflicts leading up to the Revolutionary War. However, the fact that Wheatley's circumstances were extraordinary compared to the lives of most slaves at the time is not emphasized nor given proper context. Also, the author has a tendency to offer conjecture to compensate for gaps in the known details of Wheatley's life. But, overall, the biography provides a welcome introduction to her life and accomplishments. Bibliography. Shelle Rosenfeld
From Kirkus Reviews
Subtitled "A Story About Phillis Wheatley," this is a clear, straightforward account of the poet's life. Weidt (Daddy Played Music for the Cows, 1995, etc.) makes plain the facts: In September 1773, at the age of 20, Phillis Wheatley became the second American woman to publish a book--and the first African- American of either gender to do so. She had arrived in Boston 13 years earlier on the slave ship Phillis, a frail, sickly child who spoke no English. Wealthy Bostonian Susannah Wheatley bought her for her household, where, as Weidt explains, Phillis was better treated that most slaves of the time. While a few more examples of the poet's work would have been welcome, this biography gives middle-graders a solid introduction. Young's black-and-white illustrations enhance the text, showing many telling details of colonial life. (bibliography, index) (Biography. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.