Freedom Ship by Doreen Rappaport, Curtis James |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Freedom Ship

Freedom Ship

by Doreen Rappaport, Curtis James
     
 
Samual and his family are born slaves. Every day they look beyond the harbor filled with Confederate ships, to the Atlantic Ocean, where the Union ships are--and potentially, their freedom. If only they could get to those ships somehow....Then, on May13, 1862, Samuel and his family risk it all to be free. Based on a true story, Doreen Rappaport weaves a riveting tale

Overview

Samual and his family are born slaves. Every day they look beyond the harbor filled with Confederate ships, to the Atlantic Ocean, where the Union ships are--and potentially, their freedom. If only they could get to those ships somehow....Then, on May13, 1862, Samuel and his family risk it all to be free. Based on a true story, Doreen Rappaport weaves a riveting tale of a boy and his family aboard the gunboat Planter. Captained by Robert Smalls and loaded with fellow slaves, the ship flees to the Union fleet to gain freedom from slavery and deliver much-needed ammunition to the Union Navy. Rappaport's suspenseful account, illustrated with the moody paintings of Curtis James, creates a vivid and relatable picture of this little-known tale of the civil war.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
With the same deft touch that this talented duo employed for The School Is Not White, this title presents a fictionalized account of an actual event based on newspaper accounts and details from the book From Slavery to Service: Robert Smalls, 1839-1915 written by Okon Edet Uya (Oxford University Press, 1971). Told from the viewpoint of the young boy Samuel, the story unfolds as he works on a merchant ship in Charleston's harbor while the Union ships blockade the port. Samuel's father and the first mate of the ship have formulated plans to take the "Planter," now loaded with Confederate cannons and "lots of ammunition" out of the main harbor and turn it over to the Union Army. Their determination to escape to freedom (and to prevent the cannons being used in the conflict of the Civil War) is such that they are committed to "blowing up the ship" if they cannot reach the protection of the Union vessels. The wives and children of some of the men involved scurry to the docks in the middle of the night. They are all terrified that their bid for freedom may end in tragedy. Rappaport tells the story with careful, succinct straightforward prose that builds with the drama of the escape but is not above the level of younger readers to comprehend. The illustrations cross the gutter creating two-third spreads, which leaves ample white space for the text—making it easy for reading aloud in a group setting. The facial expressions and the active movement of the pictures create tension as the brave men and women make their way to the ship and set off. Samuel's family and the others on the ship collectively hold their breath as each phase of the journey proceeds. After receivingpermission to exit the harbor, they have to worry that the Union ships will fire on them; but when they raise Samuel's white bed sheet from the "Planters" mast they are accepted by the patrolling Union ships. Freedom is, indeed, theirs. As the back matter reveals, the actual story did not end there. The real Robert Smalls went on to become the captain of the "Planter" and later to be elected to the South Carolina state legislature. He also served five terms in the U. S. House of Representatives. In 1887, he became the customs collector for Beaufort, SC. A bibliography is included, as well as numerous web sites to learn more about Robert Small and "other brave African Americans." The endpapers feature a "Plan of Charleston Harbor, And its Fortifications" compiled by Elliot and Ames in 1861. A photograph of "Robert Smalls. Captain of the Gunboat `Planter'" is superimposed on the endpapers, giving a concrete look at an extremely brave man—a concrete example for all.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Educators will welcome this story, based on a true incident, about slaves who commandeered a Confederate ship and sailed to freedom. A present-day boy introduces the tale, which is told from his great-great-grandfather's point of view. Robert Smalls is "the real pilot of the ship, even though the captain calls him a wheelman." Smalls and the nine-member crew kidnap the Planter and carry five black women and their three children to safety by offering the steamer and its weaponry to a Union vessel. Samuel swabs the deck with the crew but does not know about the escape plan, even as his mother rouses him from sleep and hurries them noiselessly to the waiting boat. The dark colors and shadows in the realistic chalk-pastel drawings suggest the secrecy of the families' nighttime escape, while the facial features and body language express urgency. Endpapers feature reproductions of a map of the Charleston Harbor and a picture of Smalls. An author's note tells more about his subsequent military service and terms as both a South Carolina and U.S. legislator. Pair this title with Eloise Greenfield's How They Got Over: African Americans and the Call of the Sea (HarperCollins, 2003), which tells Smalls's story in a collective biography that highlights historically significant African Americans connected to the sea.-Julie R. Ranelli, Kent Island Branch Library, Stevensville, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and his crew of enslaved men took over the Confederate ship Planter and delivered it to the Union side, complete with cannons and ammunition. Smalls went on to participate in several naval battles during the Civil War and later served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since this is the story of the Planter on that one day, little historical context is provided until the author's note, and readers will come away wishing there were more to it. The choice of first-person narration in the voice of a little boy, and the consequent inelegant and staccato prose, adds to the meagerness of the volume as a whole. The author's note fills in some history, and a short but good bibliography and a list of web sites offer further sources for young readers. Overall, the volume is attractively designed, the illustrations stately but stiff. Readers will be better served by some of the works from the bibliography. (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786806454
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:
10/01/2006
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 10.37(h) x 0.37(d)
Lexile:
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Doreen Rappaport (www.doreenrappaport.com) has written numerous award-winning books for children, including: Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book; and Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. She lives and writes in upstate New York.

Curtis James (www.curtisejames.com) is an award-winning fine artist whose large-scale pastels are exhibited in museums and galleries and held in private collections throughout the country. He is the illustrator of several children's books. Mr. James lives with his wife in Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >