MY FAMILY SHALL BE FREE! by Dennis Brindell Fradin


The Life of Peter Still
Age Range: 12 - 14
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In as carefully plotted description of Peter Still’s life as there is for young readers, this biography chronicles his determination to free himself and his family. Around 1806, Peter, six, and his brother, Levin, eight, wake to find their mother and two sisters missing. What they do not know is that she has taken the younger children and escaped from their Maryland plantation to reunite with Levin Sr., who had purchased his freedom from slavery and is living outside Philadelphia. When an unknown man offers to take the boys to their mother, they eagerly accept. In actuality, they have been sold to another owner in Kentucky, who later sells them both to a plantation owner in Alabama. For nearly a half-century, Levin Sr., his wife, and their 16 other children live a secret, yet free, life, while Peter and Levin’s whereabouts remain unknown. From his plan to have a kind man buy him so he can then purchase his freedom, to a failed Underground Railroad rescue of Peter’s family, to his whirlwind tour of the North to collect money to buy his family, Fradin’s account of Still’s story is thorough and relentless. The author does not shy away from the realities of the time—the persistent threat of beatings, rape, death, and other atrocities. Yet the writing is full of hope and perseverance, as well as examples of individuals, including Peter’s own brother, William, who risk and give their lives for the Abolitionist cause. While Fradin’s style here is not as graceful or as fluid as this year’s Ida B. Wells (not reviewed), Peter Still’s remarkable life should be shared with all young people. (bibliography, graphics credits) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029595-3
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000


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