Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl

Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl

by Kem Knapp Sawyer

Editorial Reviews

Linda Hutton
Well-known for her historical volumes for young people, author Kem Knapp Sawyer has produced a first novel that will enhance her reputation as a writer. Subtitled "Journey of a Slave Girl," Sawyer's latest book is the exciting fictional story of slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad just before the Civil War. This heart-wrenching tale will awaken young readers' interest in our Civil War history, while it underscores the biblical admonition ot love thy neighbor, even if she is an escaping slave. Through the use of historical documents, diaries and letters, Sawyer paints a chilling picture of enslaved life. Two girls, one white and one black, become friends and learn to trust each other, as Abby, the white girl, assists Louisa to flee to England. Careful research and accurate descriptions make "Freedom Calls" a must-buy for school libraries, as well as parents who wish to encourage children to study our history and grow up without prejudice. Highly recommended.
Hutton Book-Review Services
Mary Bradley
Louisa, a 15-year old slave, runs away from a senator's plantation in Georgetown and walks to the Potomac River where she boards the Pearl, a ship she hopes will carry her and other escapees to freedom. Within hours, however, the ship is boarded and the slaves are captured, but plucky Louisa refuses to give up. As the slaves are being led to a holding area, she bolts and seeks her friend, Abigail Bailey, 14, but Abby is facing a challenge, too. Her father, Gamaliel Bailey, a son of a Methodist minister, publishes an abolitionist newspaper and the irate citizenry are blaming him for stirring up the slavery issue. "Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl (White Mane Kids, White Mane Publishing Co. Inc., Shippensburg, $17.95) by Kem Knapp Sawyer is a story of friendship and courage for teenagers. Sawyer's book is a historical novel based on an actual incident from 1848 - the escape of 76 slaves from a Washington harbor and their capture aboard the Pearl. While Louisa's character is fictional, Sawyer consulted autobiographies of former slaves, including Frederick Douglass, as an inspiration. Historical figures are woven into the story. Sawyer also incorporates into the 181-page novel discussions of the Underground Railroad and the escape of fugitives to Britain. A Yale University graduate, Sawyer teaches writing at Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. She also wrote "Lucretia Mott: Friend of Justice," "The Underground Railroad in American History" and "Refugees: Seeking a Safe Haven."
Patriot News
Midwest Book Review
Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl tells the story of Louisa's escape from slavery and of her friendship with Abby, the daughter of an abolitionist newspaper publisher. Both girls take enormous risks to do what they think is right. They learn that freedom can only be obtained at great expense. Based on an actual incident from 1848 (the escape of 76 slaves from a Washington harbor and their capture aboard the Pearl), Kem Sawyer has paid meticulous and painstaking attention to historical detail in her riveting story for young readers. Freedom Calls is a particularly appropriate and highly recommended addition to school and community library Black History Month collections and reading lists.
Wash. Post Bk World
In Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl, author Kem Knapp Sawyer proves that courage knows no gender. Set in 1848 in Georgetown, the story follows 15-year-old Louisa as she leaps toward freedom on a whim. As a servant on loan, the teen travels daily to her mistress's house, then back to the home of her owner, the Senator. On one homeward stroll, she overhears a clandestine conversation. "'You may never get another chance like this one,' Louisa heard the man next to her whisper to his neighbor. She listened more closely and learned that he was trying to convince his friend to run away with him. He had heard that a boatman from New Jersey was willing to take fugitives north." Days later, Louisa hides with 75 others in the crowded hull of a boat named the Pearl, until a mob chases down the boat and foils the bid for freedom. Because she is not shackled, Louisa flees during the hectic march to prison: She can go back to her home. Abigail Bailey, the white, teenage daughter of abolitionist newspaperman Gamaliel Bailey, becomes Louisa's only hope. Harbored in secret, Louisa hides until Abby can help her secure a lasting freedom. Louisa's quest is fictional, but many of Sawyer's details were drawn from historical documents. Seventy-six slaves did seek freedom on the waters of the Potomac; their captain was tried and convicted; the bodies of Gamaliel Bailey and his wife, Margaret, are buried in Georgetown.
Children's Literature
Fifteen-year-old Louisa is a slave in 1848 Washington, D.C. With the assistance of her abolitionist friend, Abby, Louisa bravely attempts to escape aboard the Pearl. When the boat is captured, Louisa's quest for freedom continues and eventually takes her to England, where she struggles to make a new life for herself. Drawn from the real-life story of the 76 slaves who attempted to escape aboard the Pearl, this intriguing book follows the imagined course of one slave who managed to escape. The book not only details the struggles of Louisa but also of Abby and her white, abolitionist family's attempt to survive in a conflicted, antebellum Washington, D.C. 2001, White Mane Books, $17.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Rebecca Joseph
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Based on true events that took place in Washington, DC, in 1848, this story attempts to portray both the life of a slave trying to escape and the abolitionist movement. Fifteen-year-old Louisa has decided to take her chances aboard the Pearl, a ship willing to carry fugitive slaves north. When the vessel is captured, she escapes again, this time to her friend Abby, whose father publishes an antislavery newspaper. Hiding in Abby's room for a week, Louisa embarks on a dangerous journey that eventually takes her to England and true freedom. Although obviously well researched, the historical details overwhelm the narrative, resulting in a story that often drags, with characters that never seem fully alive. The friendship between Louisa and Abby serves only as a plot vehicle and the letters they exchange at the end strain credibility. This novel might work in a social-studies unit but most readers won't find it engaging enough to stick with it.-Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

White Mane Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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