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THE CAPTIVE by Joyce Hansen


by Joyce Hansen

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-590-41625-1
Publisher: Scholastic

 Loosely basing her story on an early slave narrative, the author of Which Way Freedom? (1986) and other evocations of the African-American experience describes the trials and triumphs of an Ashanti chieftain's son who is sold into slavery, transported to postcolonial Massachusetts (where slavery is outlawed, but frequently tolerated), and finally set free by Paul Cuffe, the black shipbuilder and captain. Though young Kofi is roughly treated, Hansen's book doesn't center on horrifying incidents (unlike Paulsen's Nightjohn or Berry's Ajeemah and His Son, both 1992); she focuses on Kofi's confusion at being surrounded by strange sights and people he cannot understand. If the plot follows an easy course--Kofi quickly learns to read and speak English, wins freedom from his master in court, later meets and marries a girl he knew in Africa, grows up to be a ship's pilot, and sees his homeland again--Kofi's pride and outrage still come through clearly, while the practices of the slave trade, in both Africa and New England, are explored in unusual detail. Readable and perceptive. (Fiction. 10-12)