Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule

Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule

4.1 9
by Harriet Gillem Robinet, Wendell Minor
     
 

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Winner of the 1999 Scott O'Dell Award
A Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies

Maybe nobody gave freedom, and nobody could take it away like they could take away a family farm. Maybe freedom was something you claimed for yourself.
Like other ex-slaves, Pascal and his older brother Gideon have been promised forty acres andSee more details below

Overview

Winner of the 1999 Scott O'Dell Award
A Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies

Maybe nobody gave freedom, and nobody could take it away like they could take away a family farm. Maybe freedom was something you claimed for yourself.
Like other ex-slaves, Pascal and his older brother Gideon have been promised forty acres and maybe a mule. With the family of friends they have built along the way, they claim a place of their own. Green Gloryland is the most wonderful place on earth, their own family farm with a healthy cotton crop and plenty to eat. But the notorious night riders have plans to take it away, threatening to tear the beautiful freedom that the two boys are enjoying for the first time in their young lives. Coming alive in plain, vibrant language is this story of the Reconstruction, after the Civil War.

Editorial Reviews

Klara Fontaine
Forty Acres and Maybe a Muleis the story of two young brothers who set out with other slaves for the Freedman's Bureau, to receive their forty acres. For Pascal, one of the book's main characters, having land also means getting respect from the white man. The author's unique descriptions of events will certainly appeal to a child's sense of adventure as they learn about unity, courage, patience and most importantly, about believing in them-selves.
Black Issue Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A 12-year-old orphaned slave leaves South Carolina in search of a Freedmen's Bureau during Reconstruction to claim the "40 acres and a mule" promised by General Sherman. "A stirring story of self-determination," said PW. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Heidi Green
It's April 1865. The Civil War has ended and the slaves are free. Or are they? Many are still bound by fear of their former violent masters and they continue to work the plantations, unpaid and ill treated. Pascal doesn't even know he's free until his older brother Gideon returns for him. With Pascal's young friend Nelly, they set off to claim the "forty acres and maybe a mule" that Gideon has heard they are promised. Along the way, they gain the company of an older gentleman, who has taken the name Mr. Freeman, and his granddaughter, Gladness. The 'family' does manage to gain its forty acres and to farm it successfully, but racism remains a powerful force. Robinet's Author's Note provides a framework for further discussion about Reconstruction, and her brief bibliography will be a good source for readers who want to know more.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Once again, Robinet has humanized a little-known piece of American history. In the spring of 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau approved a plan to give 40 acres of abandoned land to former slave families. Forty thousand freed people took advantage of that offer, only to lose their farms when it was withdrawn in September. The author focuses on Pascal, 12, a slave on a plantation in South Carolina. His older brother Gideon, who ran away during the war, returns to collect him and they head for Georgia, determined to become landowners. Teaming up with Pascal's friend Nelly and the elderly Mr. Freedman and his granddaughter, they form a family, claim land, and begin to farm. The Bibbs, white neighbors from Tennessee, are helpful in protecting them from the night riders who are determined to destroy black-owned farms. Despite their hard work, Pascal and the others are evicted at the end of the summer. Luckily, Gideon had found a treasure buried under a tree, and they set out to buy land on the Georgia Sea Islands. Pascal is a likable boy whose withered hand and leg limit his body but not his mind and whose dreadful jokes entertain everyone. The dialect may deter some readers at first, but sympathy for the characters will keep children going until they reach the satisfying ending.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
From Robinet (The Twins, the Pirates, and the Battle of New Orleans, 1997, etc.), an earnest look at the human face and the human cost of Reconstruction in the South. Pascal's older brother, Gideon, comes back for him after running away from the plantation, saying that he is free, that all the slaves are free, made so by President Lincoln, and they are to get 40 acres to farm. As Pascal and Gideon search for the Freedmen's Bureau that will give them title, they build a family of other former slaves. They get their spread, which they name Green Gloryland, but their hard work and joy are short-lived; a few months after they have planted cotton and built a house, their land is given over to whites, and the school and other black settlements are burned. Much of what happens in this story is told rather than shown, while the characters never come fully off the page. The text is often heavy- handed, e.g., "Colored and white, we're all just neighbors" and "Why couldn't white people just let them live?" Pascal, who has a withered arm and leg, is an inveterate punster, which adds levity to an otherwise grim story. (bibliography) (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439136232
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
295,250
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Wendell Minor has illustrated dozens of picture books, and his work has won countless awards and is in permanent collections of such institutions as the Museum of American Illustration and the Library of Congress. His cover illustrations have graced some of the most significant novels of our time by authors such as Toni Morrison, David McCullough, and James Michener. He lives in Washington, Connecticut. Visit him online at MinorArt.com.

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