Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+
Genre: Historical Fiction, Picture Book, Novel in verse
What did you like about the book? It is one thing to know that slaves were bought and sold; it’s a whole different thing to see a For Sale poster showing people and listing their names, ages, and price. This is the circumstance on the Fairchild Estate where the slave owner husband has just passed away. The estate owns eleven slaves that had been apprenticed to learn trades such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing. Those slaves will now have to be sold. The bulk of the story consists of four pages for each of the eleven slaves listed in the sale: a full-page portrait, a page telling about their role on the plantation, the slaves’ dreams, and a full-page image of the slave happy in the dream. The heartbreak of slavery becomes crystal clear when readers discover in a note at the end that author Ashley Bryan based the story on an actual appraisement document from 1828 for the Fairchilds Estate. Though these stories are made up, there were eleven real people to whom this sale actually happened, and that was only on one small plantation. Incredibly powerful.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Readers will long to know what became of the slaves after the sale. Were families split apart? Did any of them escape?
To whom would you recommend this book? Recommended for anyone to gain understanding of the cost of slavery to those who suffered as slaves.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries and school libraries from elementary through high school.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve with your other picture books.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 11/13/16