Freedom's Pen: A Story Based on the Life of Freed Slave and Author Phillis Wheatley
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Number of Pages: 150
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 7.50 X 5.25 (inches)
Availability: In Stock
Series: Daughters of the Faith
There are a few elements of this series that separate it from many other children's book biographies. First, these books are about little girls. They are not biographies of the entire life of these characters- these are stories about girls who made a difference while they were still young. This enables the young girl readers to relate to the characters more than they would if these characters had to wait until they were thirty or forty before doing anything significant.
Second, these stories are faith journeys. Wendy gets inside the minds of these girls in order to portray their struggles to make God an active part of their lives.
In 1761, Phillis Wheatley was a little girl of seven or eight years old when she was captured in Gambia and brought to America as a slave. But she didn't let her circumstances keep her down. She learned to read and write in English and Latin, and showed a natural gift for poetry. By the time she was twelve, her elegy at the death of the great pastor George Whitefield brought her worldwide acclaim. Phillis became known to heads of state, including George Washington himself, speaking out for American independence and the end of slavery. She became the first African American to publish a book, and her writings would eventually win her freedom. More importantly, her poetry still proclaims Christ almost 250 years later.
Philliss story begins in Africa with a slice of what her life might have been like. The authors note explains that Phillis mentioned her life in Africa only three times in her writing, so little is known of what it was actually like. The author describes enough of the slave ship environment for girls to know that it was horrid and evil without being graphic.
Lawton chronicles Philliss unusual relationship to the Wheatley family as not quite slave and not quite family, as Susannah Wheatley tries to help others realize that Africans were human by showing that they could learn if given a chance. Lawton also shows the difficult and lonely position this places Phillis in, as other slaves reject and resent her. Phillis attempts to apply Scripture such as Love your enemies and pray for them that spitefully use you (Matthew 5:44) to a fictional relationship with a hostile fellow slave.
Freedoms Pen is well-written, moving, and enjoyable. From a biblical viewpoint, it introduces young readers to a historical character who achieved great things in her short life. My nine-year-old daughter loved reading it and had me read it to her after she read it. She had no trouble with the vocabulary or with the descriptions of life on shipboard. I am considering purchasing other books in this series because of this one. Debbie W. Wilson, www.christianbookpreviews.com
Carolyn Johnson5 Stars Out Of 5September 26, 2009Carolyn JohnsonIt is very good.It is very interesting.It has a lot of action.The whole series is good.
Cheri Williams5 Stars Out Of 5April 25, 2009Cheri WilliamsA tragic beginning, an unlikely intervention, and a life of hope and love in the hands of a master storyteller. Award-winning author, Wendy Lawton, does it again in her most recent installment of The Daughters of the Faith series. Freedoms Pen is an historical fiction stand-alone billed for eight to twelve-year-olds, but a book even the most sophisticated reader will enjoy. Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped into slavery, sold on an auction block and transplanted into pre-revolutionary war-brewing Boston. She lived during a time when slave children remained uneducated, women were rarely published and most didnt believe a slave could learn to read much less become a celebrated writer. Despite all odds, she became a popular poet, the first African-American to publish a book, and one of the first writers to earn a living from her work. Lawton flawlessly knits known facts and fictional details into a riveting story of loss, hope, and triumph. The reader is transported to Africa, the horrors of a slave ship, and then to the affluent Wheatley home in a way that is historically accurate, but without so much detail as to overwhelm young readers. Lawton handles heavy themes with an eye toward age-appropriateness. The characters are riveting, real, and complex: from the cruelty of the slave traders, to the generosity and caring of the slave-owning Wheatleys, to Phillis with her heart-wrenching loss, struggle, and ultimate victory. Affluent visitors and resentful slaves in the Wheatley household add additional tension. Faith and prevalent Christian themes are explored and lived out without being preachy. The ending comes quickly but leaves the reader satisfied. A back-of-book glossary and non-fiction notes add fullness and closure to the reading experience. Highly recommended for anyone with a bent toward history, humanity, or hope. From the Christian Library Journal; used by permission.
Suzanne Alvernaz5 Stars Out Of 5February 5, 2009Suzanne AlvernazFreedoms Pen is a story of a young slave girl who comes to America and becomes a famous poet. This is an inspirational book to young poets and kids all around the U.S.A. I give this book a thumbs up. By Suzanne Alvernaz age 12
melody rose sproule5 Stars Out Of 5January 30, 2009melody rose sprouleWhat a wonderful book!I enjoyed this book and passed it on to my teenage daughter. It was so great to find a book written for young adults but entertaining for all ages.The author makes history come alive with her incredibly real characters and I look forward to the next title in this Daughters of the Faith series. Its everything historical fiction ought to be, definitely worth reading.
Kristi Holl5 Stars Out Of 5January 23, 2009Kristi HollFreedoms Pen is a compelling and tender true story that chronicles the life of a seven-year-old African girl who is kidnapped by slave traders, survives a harrowing voyage to America, and is purchased by a Boston family. Instead of receiving the beatings she fears, Phillis (named after the name of her slave ship) is treated with kindness. She brings her love of language and storytelling from Africa to Boston, where she is tutored in reading and writing. At twelve, she writes poetry that stirs the soul. She is first published at thirteen. She writes about Jesus being the Savior of the slaves as well as the white people. Phillis knows her words are hard for some to swallow, but it is the truth. She suffers persecution for being different from the other slaves, but she focuses on her gratitude to God to see her through. Inspiring story!
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