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ARMISTAD RISING by Veronica Chambers


A Story of Freedom

by Veronica Chambers & illustrated by Paul Lee

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-201803-4
Publisher: Harcourt

If oceans could talk and shores could speak, according to Chambers, they would tell a story of Joseph CinquÇ and his freedom fight aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad. This gripping, fictionalized picture-book account outlines a shameful slice of American history that some children will know from the recent film. In the days when owning slaves was legal but the stealing and trafficking of human cargo was not, a band of African prisoners were herded onto the Amistad. Despite all attempts to break their spirit and render them chattel, a struggle on the high seas ensued, and the leader, CinquÇ, overtook his captors. Complications landed the Africans in a Connecticut prison, sparking an international incident; the early American justice system did not fail the “Black Prince” and his fellow freedom fighters. The hero’s journey is told in straightforward narration, bracketed by exalted musings about freedom. In Lee’s first picture book, the strong lines and chiseled faces against dark backgrounds transmit the emotional trajectory of the story, taking it from the pages of history to a near-mythic tragedy. The hopeful outcome is succinctly communicated by the closing page’s illustration of empty, open shackles. (Picture book. 8-11)