Stealing Freedom

Stealing Freedom

4.7 24
by Elisa Carbone

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Twelve-year-old Ann Maria Weems works from sunup to sundown, wraps rags around her feet in the winter, and must do whatever her master or mistress orders--but she has something that many plantation slaves don't have. She has her wonderful family around her. To Ann, her teasing brothers, her older sister, and her protective and loving parents are everything. And then…  See more details below


Twelve-year-old Ann Maria Weems works from sunup to sundown, wraps rags around her feet in the winter, and must do whatever her master or mistress orders--but she has something that many plantation slaves don't have. She has her wonderful family around her. To Ann, her teasing brothers, her older sister, and her protective and loving parents are everything. And then one day, they are gone.

Separated from her family by her master and shipped off as a housemaid, Ann learns something about independence and about love before the opportunity for escape arrives. A white man risks his life for Ann, cuts her hair short, dresses her like a boy, and launches her on her journey on the Underground Railroad to Canada, her family, and finally to freedom.

Until she was a teenager, Ann Maria Weems lived in the mid-1800s near the author's home in Maryland. This fictionalized account of her extraordinary life is ideal for students, teachers, and parents hungry for interesting and informative reading in African-American history and the Underground Railroad.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review,PW called this novel, based on the life of a slave who disguised herself as a boy and escaped at age 13, "dramatic, often poignant." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Ann Maria Weems and her family work for the Prices at their inn and farm. Ann's father is a freeman, but Ann, her siblings and her mother are slaves. Despite this, the love in their family fills the days with joy. Master Price's gambling debts mount, and changes come to the household. When he sells a young slave who everyone knows is his own son, the Weems family becomes concerned. Soon, Ann's brothers are sold deep into the south. The Vigilance Committee helps John Weems buy his wife and daughter Catharine's freedom, but Ann must stay (for now) with the Prices. Eventually, it is time for 12-year-old Ann to "steal freedom" and flee to Canada. A $500 reward has been announced, but Ann and her friends on the Underground Railroad help her assume a new identity-she becomes a boy and successfully escapes. The author has painstakingly recreated mid-nineteenth century Maryland to tell the compelling, true story of Ann Maria Weems.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10--A deftly crafted story, based on the life of Ann Maria Weems, who was born into slavery in Maryland in the 1840s. Despite the grim realities of her situation, Ann Maria grows up secure in the love of her family. However, her master's debts are many and so her beloved brothers are sold without warning. Abolitionists are able to buy the freedom of the rest of the family, but the master refuses to part with Ann Maria. She suffers regularly at the hands of her mistress, a woman barren, it seems, in both body and soul. At first, Ann Maria nearly succumbs to depression and grief but gradually begins to carve out a life of her own as best she can. She surreptitiously teaches herself to read and falls in love with a neighbor's slave, Alfred. She promises never to leave without him, but there is nothing she can do when she is "kidnapped" by abolitionists and has no way to contact him. Carbone then details the actual route the young woman took and the dangers she faced on the Underground Railroad to Canada. While it is known that the real Alfred escaped to freedom, it is not known whether he and Ann Maria were ever reunited. But there is one source that has led some to believe that they eventually married and it is upon this joyful note that the tale concludes. In the author's note, Carbone sketches the extent of her exhaustive research and provides as much further data on the characters as possible. This is a fine piece of historical fiction with a strong, appealing heroine.--Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate, MI
Kirkus Reviews
This compelling tale of a passenger on the Underground Railroad is entirely populated with historical figures; not since Gary Paulsen's Nightjohn (1993) has the physical and emotional impact of slavery been made so palpable.

From the Publisher
"A deftly crafted story with a strong, appealing heroine." — School Library Journal, Starred

"Imaginatively and sensitively adapted from historical records, [Stealing Freedom] will evoke admiration for the courage of both those who resisted slavery and those who endured it." — Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Riveting . . . a thrilling and hopeful novel." — Columbus Dispatch

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Thirteen-year-old Anne-Marie Weems is living a rather decent life for a southern slave in 1854. Her family resides in a home together, her father is free, and the rest of them work for the Prices, an Irish family who treat them rather well until drought hits, the master's crops fail and his gambling debts mount. Soon her brothers are sold to slave holders in Alabama and before the rest of the family can be separated the Underground Railroad and the Vigilance Committee step in. Her mother and sister's freedoms are purchased but the Prices' refuse to let Anne go. She reluctantly moves with the Prices to Rockville, Maryland but a plan is in the works to steal her to freedom. Strangers risk everything to send her north; she is "kidnapped" from the Prices', spends months in hiding in Washington, DC (where her father, mother and sister are living) and then is disguised as a boy to make the journey to Canada where she is reconnected with an aunt and uncle, making friends, learning to read and falling in love along the way. There is great insight into the inner workings of the Underground Railroad, including people in other countries, aside from just running and brief shelters in the dead of night. The narration was clear and satisfying with voice changes to distinguish between characters and convincing accents (Irish, southern) when applicable; the speed, pleasantly conversational. Highly recommended. Reviewer: Amy McMillan

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Stealing Freedom 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You Must read this book. But I am not sure that you will find the intrest in this book. This book is not special or outstanding. This book has lots of lesson. This book is not different from other just 'good' books. But after all, it is good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was not only inspiring but it really helps anyone- no matter 6 or 60 years understand what it was like to be a slave, during the civil war. I am 13 years old, like the main charactor, Ann Marie Weems, who is a slave on a plantation,i can relate to some things, but not a lot. I got the privilage to meet Elisa Carbone (the author) and she told me about how she researsed slavery. I think that it is an outstanding book, that you must read for yourself. PS: it is based on a true story :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this fascinating profile of a slave, it was a great book!(: Ann- maria is a really interesting character with a very deep train of thought and a friendly, goodhearted personality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book about slaves and how a girl escapes it is a heart touching story. Read it it eill keep u reading for hours
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books i've ever read!!!!
Endoannie More than 1 year ago
Fascinating read...learned a lot about runaway slaves and their motives for doing so. Based on true story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the summer of 1853, many African-Americans were under the law slavery. In Unity, Maryland, the Weems family were one family owned by planters, or owners of the plantation. These planters were Master Charles and Mistress Carol, to which they were called. On the Maryland plantation, corn, tomatoes, beets and cabbage, along with many other harvest vegetables were grown, all by the slaves and their fairly large families. Jobs consisted of growing and pruning, which were work to the men, and inside the home or slave cabin. Labor was very constant, usually from dawn till dusk, and sometimes later to finish the duties in time, risking beatings. Mr. and Mrs.Weems and their children worked a steady and constant pace. Anne Maria was one of the oldest, and one who was put to work most often. Ann Maria enjoyed the constant work and pace. She met many new people, either being brought in or being shipped out. Alfred was one slave friend that Ann Maria grew very close to. Ann Maria had various jobs, such as harvest work and house work. While in the house one day, Ann heard of a man named Mr. Bigelow. She didn¿t know what business he had at their master¿s home. Days and days went by along with the tiresome work. Harvest time was beginning as well as the Great County Fair. Ann had always wished to someday visit the fair, but that day hadn¿t come, yet. Days later, Ann got out of some work and caught up with the fair. So many people and so many things were going on. During the visit to the fair, Ann saw a strange looking man, starring at her everywhere she went. She didn¿t know who he was. She didn¿t know what he was doing. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book, because I knew in my mind that all of the events in the story actually happened in real life, to a real person. This book really pulled me into the story, making me want to know what was going to happen next. I had no real dislikes about the book, because of how real the author put the events. Being able to relate to not just this book, but any book makes, makes it a little bit easier to understand. I think I really liked this book so much was because I could relate. My grandfather has always told me about my grandfathers, and how they conducted the slaves, and how many were actual slaves. My grandfathers took many slaves to their farmsteads, and then farther north to freedom. This book, Stealing Freedom is a great and truthful book. Reading the story really made you realize what really happened in the slavery era in history. This book is not a series. I personally think that anyone would like this book if they are interested in the slavery times or adventure because of the bold and brave steps taken to freedom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love, love, love this book. One of my favorites. A MUST READ!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Ann, a slave, gets separated from her family and may never see them again. She risks her life and embarks on a dangerous journey to freedom. This journey is made even harder by knowing that she¿s leaving her boyfriend behind. Stealing Freedom describes Ann¿s awful life as a slave and her struggle to be free. This is a great story that will keep you cheering for Ann and shows you how difficult it was to be a slave. This book does a great job of describing how bad slavery was. Most slaves were treated like animals. Ann¿s mom was forced to have kids so the master could own more slaves. Lots of slave families were split up and sold, even to other states. For example, Ann¿s brothers were sent to Alabama while she stayed in Virginia. Some slave owners made their slaves whip other slaves. The master forced Thomas to whip Alfred because Alfred was late with some groceries. I like how the slaves could be sly and could find ways to resist their masters. Thomas and Alfred had practiced whipping each other, but not quite hitting. They knew the master had a weak stomach, so Thomas would crack the whip a few inches away from Alfred. Ann has to take care of the master¿s young daughter. Ann tricks the daughter into studying the alphabet with her. That way, Ann could learn to read. Some slaves would run away. Part of the book describes Ann¿s epic journey as she escapes to the North. I admired one character named Jacob Bigelow. He was a white man who helped free slaves. First, he tried to buy Ann from her master and reunite her with her family. But the two men couldn¿t agree on a price. Eventually, Mr. Bigelow hired two men to kidnap her and take Ann to Bigelow¿s house. Ann had to hide for a while before she could leave the area. Mr. Bigelow fed her and gave her books to read. Every Sunday, Mr. Bigelow would invite Ann¿s family to come over and visit Ann. This is a great book that vividly tells you how much worse slaves were treated just because of the color of their skin. Stealing Freedom also makes you love and care for Ann. Fortunately, at the end of the story, Ann finally lands in Canada where her aunt and uncle live, and where there is no slavery. Anyone who wants to understand the daily struggle of slaves should read this book. S.Howard
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book on earth. You feel like you are Ann Maria Weems with so many decisions to make adn everything happening. You have lost your family and you have to care for a little girl named Sarah, she is cute but annoying. You must walk her to school, get her a drink of water in teh middle of the night... It feels so weird, yet it is amazing since you know it isn't happening to you right now. Ann Maria is sort of like me, just a little. Not really, but pretty close.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a great story, about Ann Maria Weems. I felt like I was Ann at some parts just saying, 'Come on.' or convincing myself that i can do it. This autour makes you feel happy and sad. The book also gives you a good taste of the mied-1800's and travling on the Underground Railroad. i reccomend this books to 11-year-olds or any age around that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is one of the most enjoyable, touching, and awesome stories i have ever read. I have enjoyed this book very much, and it has touched my heart. If you think that this book is 'boring' you might have not really looked into the true meaning of the whole story. This book is a book that i am sure most people will enjoy, and i know that I enjoyed it as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a great book about slavery. This true story is hard to belive that it ever happend! I recomend this book to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was entralled by this book. Couldn't put it down. Loved every minute as you were never sure what was going to happen to her or her family. Understand a little bit more of how slavery really affected families. This is a true story which means a lot of research went into telling the story. You must read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book good my friend has read it but I have not ?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book Stealing Freedom was very touching. Also I thought that is was kind of sad in some parts because Ann lost her brothers and the rest of her family. Plus she falls in love with Alfred and she was kidnapped from him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book several months ago, and found several problems with it: 1. The slaves spoke like middle-class white people 2. There was little excitement or tension in the text 3. a week later I couldn't remember the story!