Send One Angel Down

( 14 )


An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

Winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award

Abram know only slavery, but from the moment he holds his baby cousin in his arms, he is determined to protect her from the harsh realities of life on the plantation. As she grows, however, Eliza cannot escape notice. Her fair skin and blue eyes invite the hatred of the master's daughters, and the young slave's fate seems all but assured. Abram ...

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An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

Winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award

Abram know only slavery, but from the moment he holds his baby cousin in his arms, he is determined to protect her from the harsh realities of life on the plantation. As she grows, however, Eliza cannot escape notice. Her fair skin and blue eyes invite the hatred of the master's daughters, and the young slave's fate seems all but assured. Abram knows that freedom appears impossible, but somewhere - through the scorching heat and the overseer's whip - lies hope.

A young slave tries to hide the horrors of slavery from his younger cousin, a light-skinned slave who is the daughter of the plantation owner.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
From the day Eliza is born, her cousin Abram is "breathless careful" with her. This haunting novel is based on the true story of a beautiful and spirited slave girl, and the boy who grows up trying to protect her. It gives particular attention to an aspect not much written about for young readers--the shame and anguish surrounding the practice of breeding slaves for profit. From the beginning, Abram, though only "a bone of a boy," steps powerfully off the page as genuine flesh and blood and heart. He and Eliza can care for the young birthing mothers, but they can't stop them from dying. They can tend the babies, but they can't stop them from being sold. Utilizing extensive research of authentic slave voice, the author has attempted to show how it might have felt to be a slave. The resulting language is rich and evocative of time and place, of joy and suffering, and of real people. It would be an especially involving book to read aloud to students--the drama of its compelling story blends with the rhythm of its soulful music. The result is a hopeful, moving, and not-to-be-forgotten narrative. 2000, Holiday House, Ages 11 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
VOYA - Voya Reviews
In this story, the title of which comes from a song sung by slaves working in the cotton fields, Abram and his cousin, Eliza, are slaves on Turner's cotton plantation. They work as assistants to Granny, who takes care of slave children while their mothers work in the fields or in the big house. Abram is a dark-skinned child whose mother died in childbirth. Eliza, however, is light-skinned and blue-eyed. She is the daughter of the slave Charity and Turner, the master who "breeds" his slave women to satisfy both his sexual desire and lust for economic gain, selling the children born of these forced unions. Abram and Eliza are the playmates of Turner's children, Abigail and Emma. After Abigail discovers that she and Eliza share a daddy, Abram and Eliza are put to work as field hands. Turner decides to sell Eliza, now a beautiful young woman who will fetch a high price from a buyer likely either to use her as a "breeder" or to sell her to a brothel. Can Abram and Charity save Eliza from an awful fate? This valuable fictionalized account is based on the reminiscence of Doc Daniel Dowdy, a former slave interviewed for the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s. Although he last saw her in 1865, old Doc Dowdy chose to tell the government interviewer about his beloved cousin, Eliza. When teamed with books on the abolition movement, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, Eliza's story will aid young readers in visualizing this important but often misunderstood period in American history. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Holiday House, Ages 13 to18, 163p, $15.95. Reviewer: Tom Pearson
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Crafted around a brief true account of a slave girl's experiences in Julius Lester's classic To Be a Slave, this historical novel fleshes out the story of Eliza, as seen through the eyes of her cousin Abram. Because of her blue eyes and light skin, it is clear to those in the quarters that the master is her father. As Eliza grows, Abram takes her to the big house where the children's nanny sneaks food to her. When master is accused of saving money by fathering his own slaves, he decides to sell Eliza, and, in a bittersweet but optimistic ending, she fulfills her ambition of becoming a nanny. The strength of this novel lies in its clear portrayal of slavery. Eliza's mother has a baby each year and is old by the time she is 25. The field hands, Abram included, labor from dawn to dusk under the sharp eye of an overseer who is generous with his whippings. Throughout the story, there are references to music and singing. It is one of the slaves' survival techniques. Send One Angel Down is actually the name of a "calling song," beseeching an angel to come and help Eliza when the master decides to auction her. Characters are well drawn, although the white ones are a bit stereotypical. A note gives information about the author's research. Pair this story with Lester's To Be a Slave (Dial, 1998) and Alice McGill's Miles' Song (Houghton, 2000), which also describe the horrors of slavery. It will give students a good sense of what it really was like "to be a slave."-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550051407
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/15/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Frances Schwartz is the author of a number of historical books for older readers, including Initiation, Send One Angel Down, and If I Just Had Two Wings, winner of the Silver Birch Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

1 Ring Them Bells 1
2 Come, Butter, Come 8
3 Ask the Lord for Wings to Fly 13
4 H-o-o Ah Hoo! 23
5 Snatchin' and A-crammin' It in My Sack 30
6 In My Lady's Chamber 39
7 Hush-a-by! Don't You Cry 49
8 Come A-long, There's a Meetin' Here Tonight 56
9 Dodo, Dodo Petit 66
10 Sometimes I'm Up, Sometimes I'm Down 73
11 Reelin' and A-rockin' 78
12 No More Rain Fall To Wet 'Em 83
13 How Long Before the Sun Goes Down? 91
14 No Hiding Place 99
15 Gonna Shout All Over God's Heaven 105
16 I Done Been Tried 111
17 Girl in a Guinea Blue Gown 117
18 No More Sun Shine to Burn Her 122
19 Send One Angel Down 129
20 If I Had My Way 138
21 A Band of Angels Coming After Her 148
Afterword 159
Author's Note 161
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sad that it's true

    this story is sad largly because it was true. It is the story of a girl told from the view point of her cousin who loved her like a sister. The things they had to go threw at such young ages will break your heart but will also have you cheering them on. It is a story of love and hate. A story of faith and superstetion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2006

    A tale of girl with spirit

    Virgina Frances Schwartz writes a very good book about a young girl with lots of courage and spirit. Her cousin and her have to go through lots of diffuclt times during this time era in our American Hisroty. I like this book because it shows a very good story of a girl with courage and never gave up. The best part in this story is when Eliza gets her freedom. The wrost part is when they are meann to Eliza and her family. This book has some historical fiction to it because it really happend. The author did a very good job of describing each of the events that happend. i would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a different story that we really dont hear that often.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    Send One Angel Down is a #1 must !!!

    Eliza is born into slavery. Her mom is a slave and her dad is Master Turner. She has light brown skin, blue eyes, and black wavy hair. She grows up helping with the babies, training to be a nanny, and works in the cotton fields. She plays with the Master's daughters until one day when the oldest gets mad at her. She yells 'I don't want you anymore!' So her dad takes Eliza and is going to sell her in an auction. So Abram secretly saves money to buy Eliza. At the auction a man from New York buys her and sets her free. Then she leaves to work as his nanny. This book was fantastic and anybody who likes to read a good book should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    Break Free !

    The book Send one angel down ,is a very good book .I really enjoyed it! The best part of the book was when the main character eliza was born .It was a shock to their family to see that this little girl had blue eyes and carmel colored skin.The worst part of the book was when Abram was getting whipped by the master ,and when the masters daughters got really jelous of eliza and made her do slave work .I would recommend this novel to sombody who wants to read about the difference between creoles (light colored blacks )and darker colored blacks .I give the book 2 thumbs up!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2006

    Send One Angel Down

    This book was very interesting and I think everybody would enjoy the book because it shows us that we should be thankful for what we have. The best part was when the abolitionist bought Eliza her freedom. The worst part of the book was when all seven babies drowned from the rain. This book is historical Fiction because it takes place during the era of southern slavery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    Sad History

    This novel, is not the greatest book that I've read, although it's something you can learn from.You can learn the decisions of the slaves, that went through slavery,that suffered much than we did.The worst part of this novel is where the little boy,Abram gets whipped.I would recommend this novel to anyone,if they wanted to read somathing sad,or about our history before the Cival War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2006

    'Sweat and Tears'

    Virginia Frances Schwartz, a great author who wrote 'Send One Angel Down'. I really like this book because it was very interesting and for a person who doesnt like to read, i enjoy reading this book alot. i would recomend anyone to read this book because it doesnt take long to read and its a great book. Abram, the main character struggles from being a young slave helping out his Granny and his aunt and turned to a young hardworking slave working in the fields.The best part of the book was when Abram's neice, Eliza was set free at the end of the story and i think the worst part of the book was when they took his aunt's baby away from her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2006

    Through Strife comes Hope

    Miss Schwartz writes about a black slave named Abram, and his blue eyed, light skinned cousin Eliza. I liked this novel because it was very interesting, with well thought out characters and a vibrant array of sad and happy events. I would recommend this book to those interested in slavery and the lives of those who went through it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2006

    Girl With Blue Eyes

    The Girl With Blue Eyes Virginia Francis Schwartz writes a historical fiction book about a girl named Eliza. In this book Eliza is born on a plantation but she is not like any other slave. As Eliza grows older she realizes that her skin and eye color are not like her mother's or even any other slave living on the plantation. It then becomes inevitable for her cousin Abram to keep the truth from her any longer. Eliza finds out that her dad is no one else but Master Turner, the owner of the plantation Eliza lives. It seems that Eliza after Eliza is told who her father is, things get worse for her. Master Turner's older daughter, Miss Abigail, grows jealous of Eliza's natural beauty and to satisfy Miss Abigail , Master Turner decides to auction Eliza .Will she be sold to another mean plantation owner or will a man with a good heart by her freedom? I enjoyed reading this book and liked the fact that it educated you with little bit of how slaves lives were back then. Anyone who likes books about remarkable times in history will enjoy reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2006

    Slavery Angel

    Virginia Frances Schwartz writes about the time during slavery, based on a true story on a slave named Eliza. This story is told by her cousin Abram. This book is good if you like to read books that tallk about how 'people' suffered back then during slavery time. This book will be good for kids in middle school. It will show people that how people were back thhen to African-Americans. I give this a book a 4 star because it was a good book but it would be better if it had a little more excitement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2005

    about the book

    this book was very good and i would encourage others to read this book dreams do come true

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    Young Slave Girl Tries to Find out Who she is

    ''Why do I look like I'm in the middle? Not as dark as you or as light as them. A different color altogether. What does that make me?'' When you look in the mirror and you see you, do you know who you are? Life has more secrets than we know about. In the book, Send One Angel Down, Eliza and her cousin, Abram, live every day of their lives trying to find out who they are and what their job in life is. Along the way, they encounter many problems that get in the way of their dreams. When Eliza is old enough to understand that she is different from the other slaves because of her pale skin and bright blue eyes, she wonders why she is so different. Her older cousin, Abram, tries to keep the details of her background from her because he wants to protect her from the pain and harsh realization that come with that background. Eventually, Master's daughter, Abigail, goes too far with her comments about Eliza's being different and Eliza forces Abram to tell her about her background. Once he tells her, Eliza doesn't want to believe him but she knows that Abram wouldn't lie to her. As Eliza grows up, Abigail becomes jealous of the young slave's beauty and tells Master Tuner to put Eliza out in the fields. Being out in the sun only makes Eliza's beauty greater and Abigail becomes even more jealous. To calm his daughter, Master Turner puts Eliza on the auction block. Abram and Aunt Charity, who is Eliza's mother, sneak out of the fields to watch the auction. At the auction a man, the 'Swedelander' and a buyer from New York bid on Eliza. Who will buy Eliza? What will the man from New York do with Eliza if he bids highest on her? What about the Swedelander? What will he do with Eliza if he bids highest on her? If you like historical fiction, this is the book for you. What I liked about this book were the sub-plots that occurred and kept me interested in the story. Most readers will enjoy the way the author showed the strong bond between Abram and Eliza. Any teenager, boy or girl can read this book and stay interested because each character's thoughts are expressed in a thoughtful way. A 5-star book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2000


    This novel grew out of questions children asked me when I was a classroom teacher many years ago teaching about slavery. What was it? How did it feel? Who were these people? I wanted to know too, to connect to people who had suffered a great injustice, yet who were long gone. I read and researched for years in the archives of the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture and The Central Queens Library.What I found changed me forever. I read interviews conducted by the Federal Writers Project in 1930 with the ex-slaves. Their voices reached out and touched me. The slaves were no longer nameless. Mittie Freeman. Charlie Smith. Delicia Patterson. They told stories of Africa and of their ancestors being uprooted on The Middle Passage, working on plantations, separated from families they would never see again. They spoke of lifelong dreams of freedom realized after The Civil War. When the slaves were released, Charlotte Brown remembers Sister Carrie shouting,'There's no more selling today. No more pulling off shirts today.It's stomp down freedom today. Stomp it down!' It was when I read the story of Eliza that I was pierced with both joy and pain. Hers is a story of suffering and redemption. Her story is narrated by Abram, her older cousin. Eliza, he feels, will be different because she is the firstborn child of a breeder, his Aunt Charity. Her mother will be allowed to keep her. All the rest of her children will be sold. Slave trade from Africa was banned in 1808. One of the great horrors of slavery was how slave owners perpetuated afterwards. They instituted the practice of breeding children and selling them at auction. In that way, there would be a continual supply of slaves and capital. Abram is an orphan whose mother died at 13 in childbirth and whose father ran away on the underground road and was never heard from again. It is no wonder that Abram clings to Eliza. He will become a surrogate parent to Eliza. Whatever healing he needs, comes to him through his love for his cousin. A narrator takes us on a journey. Abram took me. I saw everything through his eyes. He was an eyewitness to everyday life on a plantation in the 1800's. To death. To whippings. To folklore. To birthings. He does not turn away. He was the one who answered all the questions my students asked me. Through Abram, I explored a young slave's psyche, the life of a child who had no childhood. I used songs to help express his emotions. The title song, 'Send One Angel Down' was a prayer in dire circumstances. If-a you can't come, If-a you can't come, Lord, Send-a one angel down. Send him on a rainbow, Send him in a glory, Send him in a hurry, Lord, If-a you can't come. This is a story about belief in the face of racism and hopelessness. Belief is always a choice. When you call an angel down, it is powerful. It is my hope that you will enjoy reading this historical fiction novel. Virginia Frances Schwartz

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2000

    Send One Angel Down, And Enlightening Experience

    I thouroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I especially liked the use of the songs and poems, it must have taken Ms. Schwartz a long time to collect and/or write them, and I give her credit for that and for putting together a story which is partially non-fiction. I found it to be very enjoyable and well-written, and I look forward to reading her future books!!! Good job, Ms. Schwartz, at your first book! Keep it up!!!

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