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From Slave Ship to Freedom Road Paperback – December 1, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Slavery is a difficult concept to address with children, especially because many adults would prefer to forget that period of American history. In From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, award-winning author Julius Lester takes older children (and adults) on an intense, personal journey through the slave experience. As he gently explains the factual horrors of slave-ship conditions, auction blocks, plantation life, and the risks associated with escape, Lester consistently prods young readers with probing questions: "How would I feel if that happened to me?" "Would you risk going to jail to help someone you didn't know?" "You are free, but are you?" Lester also asks us to imagine the voices and feelings of the African Americans in the illustrations--another brilliant call for active participation.

Rod Brown's paintings are achingly vivid, so much so that a few may be too powerful for younger children. Certain depictions are difficult even for adults to bear: a lynched man with the bloody blows of a whip marking his back; slaves stacked seven-high in the hold of a ship, packed onto shelves with less room than the drawers of a morgue; and black bodies bobbing in the ocean. These are horrible images, but nonetheless historically accurate and important to remember. Brown took seven years to create these startling images, and his careful attention is reflected in the paintings' power and emotion. Children may be initially startled by From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, but they will also be engaged and enlightened. (Ages 10 to 13) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"Brown's 21 paintings provide a cohesive narrative line and have a stunning power of their own, but the confrontational tone of the text may usurp readers' attention," said PW of this volume, which traces the African-American journey from the Middle Passage to post-Civil War emancipation. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: AD720L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; 59784th edition (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140566694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140566697
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Julius Lester has an amazing way with words in this powerful book about the journey to America on the slaveship. The illustrator, Rod Brown, is phenomenal! The two of them together made this book a tool for empowering young people to understand the experiences of Africans coming to America against their will. Although some of the content is tear-jerking and painful, it is necessary reading for all upper elementary and higher grade students. Adults should read it too!
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Format: Paperback
"From Slave Ship to Freedom Road" combines text by Julius Lester with the superb paintings of Rod Brown. Together they tell the story of African-American enslavement and freedom.
Brown's paintings are truly stunning. He creates images that are often disturbing and graphic: men chained together like cargo in a slave ship's hold, a slave's back bloody with fresh welts, etc. But he also renders the faces of people with great care and tenderness.
At times, I felt that Lester's text was a bit too racially charged (for example, he includes separate "Imagination Exercises" for black and white readers). But on the whole, this is a moving and educational book. Also, there is text and an illustration explaining how many whites risked their lives to help escaped slaves; this aspect of the book is an effective celebration of racial reconciliation.
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Format: Paperback
I have used this book for years with middle grade students. It is to be used cautiously, I think with younger readers. It is an effective way to introduce the truly unthinkable aspects of slavery: the middle passage with human excrement falling on helpless captives, being stripped of clothes and dignity, and being owned by another human being. Julius Lester is a master wordsmith and he brings this forth on every page. The book is told from three different voices: The slave master, the slave and the narrator. These voices allow the story to be told so as not to offend, but to enlighten. The illustrations are strong and grounded images of slaves--it is like the ancestral souls have been painted on each page. I highly recommend this book, especially for teachers of US History. It is even useful in high school classrooms--where they can have even deeper discussions about the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Even though the book is for children it will open the eyes and heart of anyone that reads it. It's like the painting was done as the story was written. I had a chance to meet Rod Brown and he does an excellent job of reviewing the book while displaying his art work. I was moved to tears.
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By A Customer on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a college student that had this book read to me in one of my literacy classes. I have never seen a "children's" book so powerful. Most elementary social studies books give a less graphic approach to slavery. I think that this is a great book to use in the classroom. Many history books paint a more rosie picture of slavery. This book can open up the eyes of many students. I fear though that parents and administrators may be disapproving of this text. That probably is because they are afraid or ashamed of history. This book would work wonders for a social issues literacy discussion. Students are encouraged to reflect feelings of empathy not sympathy when reading this book. This is a wonderful book and I encourage teachers and parents everywhere to use it when dealing with the topic of slavery. It can open many people's eyes!!!!
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By A Customer on December 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This was a moving book. I was hurt, yet intrigued by the text and pictures of the brutality of slavery. If there are people out there who would not want children to read/see this book, it would be only because they are ashamed of what happened to a race of people by the hands of another people. The truth has been hidden and ignored long enough. Every American needs to know what our ancestors went through. I am still hurt by what I saw and read. A must have for every American.
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Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by the looks of this book. It isn't for little kids. This powerful narrative asks students to step into the role of a middle passage slave, a master whipping a slave, an abolitionist, and a salve who has just been set free after the Civil War. For classroom use I would send small sections home with CAREFULLY selected students for them to practice reading as a homework assignment. By numbering their entries, students can circle in order to read their parts aloud in order. To be on the safe side, sending permission slips home to parents might be a good idea. This is powerful, expect to see emotions from your students. I would not use it with students any younger than 8th grade, and that might be pushing it.
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