Children's LiteratureNewly competent readers are likely to thrill to this well told story of the Civil War hero, Robert Smalls. With his family aboard, Smalls and his fellow slave crew members commandeered a southern supply ship and sailed it out of Charlestown harbor into the Union waters. While the sentence structure is kept fairly simple, some of the vocabulary may be challenging, simply because it refers to objects and activities from long ago (carriage, lamplighter, cannon, Confederates). However, Brown's telling is vivid and the illustrations will help with context clues. An "Afterword," written at a higher reading level, gives more information about Smalls, including the fact that he eventually became a member of the U.S. Congress. The book also includes a bibliography of sources, including primary sources such as Smalls' letters. Marshall's somewhat sepia toned paintings are fairly realistic and reinforce the sense that this is a genuine informational work, not just a "little kids' book." It could be a valuable addition to a reading tutor's collection as well as an excellent selection for a classroom; the library binding price is a little high for private collections but like other books in this series, it is likely to be issued as a paperback. Part of the "On My Own History" series. 2006, Millbrook Press/Lerner, Ages 6 to 8.