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)
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.
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