Phillis's Big Test
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Phillis's Big Test

by Sean Qualls, Catherine Clinton
     
 

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In 1773, Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry. It was a great accomplishment that made her very famous.
Only a year before, Phillis had had to take a test to prove that she was the actual author of these poems, because Phillis Wheatley was a slave.
Who would believe that an African girl could be the author of such poetry?
Phillis did! She believed…  See more details below

Overview


In 1773, Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry. It was a great accomplishment that made her very famous.
Only a year before, Phillis had had to take a test to prove that she was the actual author of these poems, because Phillis Wheatley was a slave.
Who would believe that an African girl could be the author of such poetry?
Phillis did! She believed in herself, and took every opportunity she could to make her life better. She believed in the power of her words, and her writing to prove her talent, and used the power of words to change a life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Qualls' terrific mixed-media art...enlivens every page." Booklist Feb 1 2008 Booklist, ALA

"A powerful introduction to the first published African-American poet." Kirkus 3/15/08 Kirkus Reviews

"Qualls' fresh and distinctive acrylic and collage illustrations...imbue [Phillis] with a prim grace and serene beauty." Bulletin, May 2008 Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- This picture-book biography deals with a transformative moment in the life of Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book of poetry. In 1772, 18 members of the intelligentsia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony (including the governor) gathered to question the 17-year-old slave to ascertain the authorship of the poems she claimed were her own. An epilogue explains that no record remains of what transpired, but a document signed by those present was published with her collection of poems the following year. Clinton imagines Wheatley's thoughts as she proceeded through Boston, flashing back to her nights of intense preparation; childhood studies of English, Latin, Greek, and the Bible with the children of her master; and her arrival on a slave ship at age seven. Qualls's uncluttered acrylic and collage compositions employ strong diagonal lines, swirling ribbons of thought, and a combination of opaque images and outlined, transparent figures over washes of color to create visual interest. A warm sienna, contrasted with cool blues, grays, and browns, dominates the artist's palette. A formal tone, an occasional quaint turn of phrase, and a typeface with an irregular impression create the flavor of a time past. Clinton and Qualls offer an elegant introduction to an important individual, albeit without including any samples of Wheatley's poetry or a bibliography. Readers interested in more will appreciate Robin Doak's Phillis Wheatley (Compass Point, 2005) and Catherine Clinton's A Poem of Her Own (Abrams, 2003).-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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Kirkus Reviews
Phillis Wheatley was named for the slave ship that brought her to Boston. She was educated with the children of her masters and in her late teens, she entertained the Wheatleys' guests with recitations of her own poems. The straightforward text tells the story of how in 1772 she defended her poems to 18 white men at Harvard to prove that she, a black female teenage slave, had actually written them. Even after this, her poems were published in London rather than Boston. Qualls renders his evocative images in a richly textured palette of dusky reds and blues, blacks and browns in acrylic and collage, a powerful accompaniment to Clinton's lucid text. When Phillis recalls her journey on the slave ship, a lightly sketched montage of chained figures form the background; when she dreams, ghostly masks appear above her recumbent form. Phillis herself has almond eyes, an oval face and a beautiful mouth. A powerful introduction to the first published African-American poet. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618737390
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/21/2008
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Lexile:
AD930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Sean Qualls received a Coretta Scott King Honor award for his illustrations in Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, and has published many other acclaimed books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family. Visit his website at www.seanqualls.com.

Catherine Clinton earned her undergraduate degree in Afro-American studies from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in history from Princeton. She is the author of many historical works for children and adults, and has taught African American Studies at Brandeis University, Brown University, Harvard University, and Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland . Dr. Clinton lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she's Denman Professor of American History at the University of Texas San Antonio.

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