FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley  Bryan
Kirkus Star

FREEDOM OVER ME

Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
by , illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bryan gives voices to the voiceless and presents the dreams of slaves who went to the grave without living them.

Using historical slave documents from the 1820s to the 1860s, Bryan brings to life 11 slaves who once belonged to Cado Fairchilds. When Fairchilds dies, his British-born wife decides to sell off the slaves and move back to England. Each of the 11 is given two double-page spreads to speak in. Accompanied by a free-verse first-person narrative, an illustration of each slave’s portrait appears in a varied palette of warm browns against a backdrop of documents related to historical slave sales. On the page adjacent to this illustration, the slave tells of the special skill he or she possesses that enriches the Fairchilds plantation. But on the following two pages, that same person explains what he or she dreams of doing with that talent. In contrast to the dull initial portrait, the second set of pages for each slave appears in full color and shows the speaker fully immersed in a caring community. The speakers’ talents include carpentry, music, sewing, cooking, and more. After including the price under each slave’s picture, Bryan offers a final tally for the completed sale, humans, livestock, and goods: $3,476.05.

Bryan makes real and palpable what chattel slavery meant and how it affected those who were enslaved; every child who studies American slavery would benefit from experiencing this historically grounded web of narratives. (author’s note) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4814-5690-6
Page count: 42pp
Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2016




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