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Children's LiteratureFollowing the "Dear America" series format, this is not an actual diary. The book weaves historical events and people of 1763 with fictional ones. So, battles in the French and Indian War and the fencing champion Saint Georges mix with fictional Lozette, an African-French slave girl, and semi-fictional Marie Louise, based on a real female fencing champ. Notes and photos in the book help explain where reality ends and fiction begins. Lozette, or Zettie, begins her diary January, 1763, in Aix-en-Provence, while locked up in a tiny room of the Boyer home. Pierre, the brother of Marie for whom Zettie has been a companion for seven years, is about to sell Zettie away from all she believes to be hers. That's when the real adventure begins. Twelve-year-old Zettie and eighteen-year-old Marie escape to the New World to find Marie's older brother Jacques, who disappeared while fighting for the French. In a year's time, Zettie learns how to do meaningful tasks such as cooking, as well as put her knowledge of arithmetic, reading, and writing to good use in her new home in Fort Niagara. Zettie (ultimately freed from slavery), Marie, and many diverse colonists learn how to be free in this new environment. A map of Zettie's route taken in the New World would be helpful. The switch from the diary's "translated" French to English, Zettie's lesser-known language, is unconvincing since the style doesn't change. But the reader forgets this and is caught up in the story. 2004, Scholastic Inc, Ages 12 up.
—Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D.