“I was enslaved in Central Africa. In chained coffles, I survived the long walk to the coast.”
After reading an 1828 estate appraisement listing only the names, ages, and prices of a family’s slaves, author Ashley Bryan decided to bring these forgotten souls to life, giving each their own story and dreams using free-form poems. Weaving the eleven people together through marriage, friendship, or mere shared servitude, a community emerges and just how grave and dehumanizing the conditions of slavery were comes to light. Each fictionalized account of a real person merits reflection on how the institution of slavery gravely affected our brothers and sisters in the past, and how it still affects us today.
The illustrations bring life to each fictionalized story in a way that is not too juvenile for its target audience, but could be easily emulated by any young artists who happen to be reading. This book is recommended for readers in grades 3-6 and would pair flawlessly with Laurie Halse Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy.