MY NAME IS HENRY BIBB by Afua Cooper

MY NAME IS HENRY BIBB

A Story of Slavery and Freedom
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Partnered titles explore the worlds of enslaved African-Americans from a fictionalized first-person perspective. The son of a White man who neither owned his mixed-race mother Milly nor acknowledged him, Henry is given to the master’s infant granddaughter. Growing up, Henry endures many trials and tribulations on Harriet’s father’s rural Kentucky plantation, yet conditions there are better than being hired out. When he is hired by a judge in Louisville, Henry learns about “walking on water”—escape across the Ohio River into freedom. Inspired by the birth of his daughter, Henry finally escapes. Although the epilogue quickly summarizes his later work as an abolitionist, Henry’s narrative suffers from its abrupt end. The companion, My Name Is Phillis Wheatley (ISBN: 978-1-55337-812-9), is much better crafted, starting with her childhood in West Africa. An excellent and age-appropriate account of the Middle Passage leads to Phillis’s arrival in Boston. After being sold into slavery, Phillis is educated, begins to write poetry and achieves international fame. Unlike Henry’s story, which only explores his life as a slave, Phillis’s narrative is truly a story of slavery and freedom. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55337-813-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: KCP Fiction/Kids Can
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2009