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Wolf by the Ears

( 27 )

Overview

Harriet Hemings has always been happy in the comfortable, protected world that is Monticello. She's been well treated there; no one has ever called her a slave. But that is what she is, a slave of a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. And there are rumors that she might be more than Thomas Jefferson's slave -she might be his daughter.

Now Harriet has to make a choice - to run to freedom or to stay. If she stays, she'll remain a slave. But how can she choose freedom, ...

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Overview

Harriet Hemings has always been happy in the comfortable, protected world that is Monticello. She's been well treated there; no one has ever called her a slave. But that is what she is, a slave of a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. And there are rumors that she might be more than Thomas Jefferson's slave -she might be his daughter.

Now Harriet has to make a choice - to run to freedom or to stay. If she stays, she'll remain a slave. But how can she choose freedom, if it means leaving behind her family, her race, and the only home she 's ever known.

Harriet Hemings, rumored to be the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, one of his black slaves, struggles with the problems facing her--to escape from the velvet cage that is Monticello, or to stay, and thus remain a slave.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
`` . . . And we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.'' Thomas Jefferson's metaphor for slavery is dramatically brought to life through his illegitimate daughter (Rinaldi suggests) by a slave woman. In this thoughtful fictionalization, 19-year-old Harriet Hemings is one of many ``nigra servants'' on Jefferson's estate. Light-skinned, with red hair, Harriet knows she is different; and although the master has granted the servants' freedom when they reach 21, no one ever suggests that he is their father. Now Harriet must choose between the place and the people she loves and the frightening, often deceitful world of freedom. The subtly crafted style of Harriet's journal entries grows with her as she becomes more aware of the ``velvet trap'' of her life at Monticello. This is an intelligent yet earthy history that lends insight into the complex feelings surrounding race relations. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-- This historical novel explores the life of Harriet Hemings, one of Jefferson's household slaves and possibly his daughter. While the character of Harriet is largely fictional, her story is set firmly within an authentic historical context. The plot is revealed through Harriet's diary, a device that occasionally seems forced. A very light-skinned slave, she is favored in the Monticello household where she feels secure and protected. Other less fortunate members of the slave community urge her to make plans to take her freedom when she turns 21, a freedom that Jefferson has promised to all of the children of his supposed mistress, Sally Hemings. It is not until she is almost raped by the drunken husband of Jefferson's granddaughter that Harriet begins to contemplate what life might be like at Monticello after Jefferson dies. Thus, she makes the decision to move to Washington, D. C., and to pass as white. Knowing that this is her best hope for a decent life does not prevent her from feeling guilt over abandoning her race or grief over leaving behind all that she knows and loves. The moral dilemmas Harriet faces are played out against the backdrop of Jefferson's own ambivalence about the institution of slavery. The most telling observation in the novel is that the whites find slavery most repugnant when those enslaved look almost white themselves. Harriet's plight is poignant, and she is a finely drawn, believable character. The racism inherent in the enslavement of Africans is clearly exposed. The evils of slavery appear in a stark light even in the relatively benign environment of Monticello. Exploring the thoughts and feelings of both blacks and whites, this book should provide readers with insights into one of the most significant moral problems in American history. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590434126
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Point Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 533,000
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.73 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    Wolf by the Ears

    Ann Rinaldi is a truly gifted writer and story teller. This novel is so realistic that you will think you're in Monticello yourself. You'll have no choice but to weep when you read about the electricity and chemistry between Harriet and Thomas Jefferson. This novel will not leave you unsatisfied. Enjoy... but be prepared to read it in one sitting! 'P.S. Sorry if I got a little too overdramatic. This is a subject that I'm very passionate about!'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2008

    Wolf by the Ears

    Three words: A MUST BUY! Perfect for anybody, boy or girl who loves historical fiction. I personally think that the Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson relationship is dang interesting... as flawless as a novel can be!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    Easy reading,

    Wolf by the Ears is a unique novel that lures its readers by describing the life o slave. Ann Rinaldi brings Harriet Hemings, the daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, into an unforgettable slave girl who becomes a woman. It is then Harriet has ¿to make a choice¿ about her future. Wolf by the Ears is similar to the book Sally Hemings, a novel by Barbara Chase-Riboud. Wolf by the Ears illustrate the lives slaves with a mixed race background and the conflicts of slavery. This book gives the attention to individuals who are interested in reading about interracial identity, the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings relationship or a life story of a slave. I enjoy reading the book because I had the intention to buy Wolf by the Ears in the first place, but when I saw it at the school library I immediately want to start reading. I rate Wolf by the Ears four stars out of five stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2007

    Anna here, loving this rocking book

    This was a wonderful book and I'm glad that we had to read it. Anyone who doesn't like it must be dim-witted and ignorant. It is a great book on perspective of slavery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2006

    Pretty good

    I enjoyed this book as i got further into it. I am a huge Rinaldi fan but this is probably my least favorite of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    GREAT

    This book is sad. Even though it means something important and great for Harriet. Every word you read takes you deeper into the story and of the life that Harriet had until she got her freedom from her master and father.This was something very impotant in Harriet's life. This was something that needed to be made into a story. I loved it very much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2005

    one of her bests

    wolf hy the ears is one of the many best Ann Rinaldi books. this story kept you on your toes and you can't put the book down. it has some mysterys but I won't give any away you have to read it to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2005

    A Compelling Read

    This book is very well written and gets you thinking about the past. This book is thought provoking and moving. I definetly recommend this book to others. Ann Rinaldi is my favorite historical author, her books make history interesting to read, instead of the old biographies on people. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're not interesting, but the way Ann Rinaldi writes her books makes them fun for young people. I couldn't put this book down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2003

    urgh

    possibly the worst book i've ever read in my life.. i had no choice though, because i had to read it to pass 8th grade. i recomend u not read it. it's horrible. u'd drop dead by boredom by reading the first 10 pages. trust me

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2003

    Fabulous and Breathtaking

    I thought that this book was absolutly terrific. I mean, when Harriet got caught doing something she shouln't be doing by her master, *I* was also scared or excited or sad. I would recommened this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2002

    Most interesting book i've read in a long time!

    I bought this book when I was in 8th grade after reading "In My Father's House" the year before, I couldn't put it down! I'm now in my freshman year of college and I still read it over and over again. Ann Rinaldi is the most gifted historical writer of her time and she keeps it interesting for her readers all the way through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002

    A Classic!

    I loved this book. I am not a reader but once I started,I couldn't put it down. This was the first Rinaldi book I read, and because I read it, I continued to read other books of hers. This is a classic, and everyone should read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2002

    Not Rinaldi at her best

    I love Rinaldi's books usually but reading this book felt like a chore instead of a enjoyment. Anne Rinaldi is a great writer but I don't feel that this was one of Rinaldi's greatest peices.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2000

    my opinion of wolf by the ears

    Even tho I have no real intrest in reading. I have to read so many books according to my reading and language arts teacher.All tho I'am not all the way finished with this book.Yet I've had troble putting it down I hope everone who reads it enjoys it as much as I do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    Intriguing and interesting.

    Wolf By the Ears is not only fascinating from a 'personal' point of view but also presents many interesting issues that a lot of slaves probably had to deal with. There were many mulattos, and it's interesting to see how they felt about knowing that their father must have been white for them to be the color they are. I thought this book was terrific, not only because of the characters but because of the overall situation that was presented.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2000

    A great book

    Wolf by the ears, is about a young girl, who is part black but looks white. She even has the choice to pass as white, but could she give up everything she ever knew?? I really think that anyone who likes Ann Rinaldi books should read this book. I couldn't put it down, and I'm sure if you read it, you'll like it too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2000

    Wonderful Book

    It was a marvelous book that made me question my heros. Once I started I couldn't put it down. Harriet Hemmings was a charming and sassy girl who wonders if freedom is worth it. I loved the way Ann Rinaldi captured Thomas Jefferson's spirit in the book. It haunted me for days and I have read it three times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2000

    Intense trip to the past

    It was a great realism that america has changed in less than two centuries. Even though this book was not that accurate in its exact detiales it was a very good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2000

    I Couldn't Put It Down!

    I am a twelve-year old girl,who really likes to read.I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read Ann Rinaldi books, because I think this is the best book she has written so far. This book gives a good description of the lives of Thomas Jefferson's slaves.Through the book you learn what a light colored skinned slave's life was like.The story focuses around Sally Hemmings'daughter, Harriet,and tells what life was like for her. I hope that whoever reads this review will buy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    A great book

    This book is about a subject that is kind of complex. Thomas Jefferson is a slave owner and the author of the Declaration of Independence. That doesn't seem right. One of the slaves is his daughter. This book is a wonderful book it's filled with facts from that time. I enjoyed this book. I hope you do as well.

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