Nightjohn

Nightjohn

by Gary Paulsen
4.3 46

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Overview

Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen

"To know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. We get to wanting and when we get to wanting it's bad for them. They thinks we want what they got . . . . That's why they don't want us reading." -- Nightjohn

"I didn't know what letters was, not what they meant, but I thought it might be something I wanted to know. To learn."--Sarny

Sarny, a female slave at the Waller plantation, first sees Nightjohn when he is brought there with a rope around his neck, his body covered in scars.

He had escaped north to freedom, but he came back--came back to teach reading. Knowing that the penalty for reading is dismemberment Nightjohn still retumed to slavery to teach others how to read. And twelve-year-old Sarny is willing to take the risk to learn.

Set in the 1850s, Gary Paulsen's groundbreaking new novel is unlike anything else the award-winning author has written. It is a meticulously researched, historically accurate, and artistically crafted portrayal of a grim time in our nation's past, brought to light through the personal history of two unforgettable characters.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307804228
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/31/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 496,235
Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Gary Paulsen is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, including three Newbery Honor books: The Winter Room, Hatchet, and Dogsong. He won the Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the American Library Association for his lifetime achievement in young adult literature. Among his Random House books are Road Trip (written with his son, Jim Paulsen); Family Ties; Vote; Crush; Flat Broke; Liar, Liar; Paintings from the Cave; Woods Runner; Masters of Disaster; Lawn Boy; Notes from the Dog; The Amazing Life of Birds; Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day; How Angel Peterson Got His Name; Guts; and five books about Francis Tucket's adventures in the Old West. Gary Paulsen has also published fiction and nonfiction for adults. He divides his time between his home in Alaska, his ranch in New Mexico, and his sailboat on the Pacific Ocean.

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Nightjohn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
SJKessel More than 1 year ago
Paulsen, G. (1993). Nightjohn. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers. 0440219361 Told from the perspective of twelve-year-old Sarny, the historical Nightjohn shares the trials of the slaves on the Waller plantation. Sarny, a quiet outsider who can't even remember her mother who was sold while Sarny was still young, is the first to notice Clel Waller's newest slave, a heavily scarred tall man named John. Sarny learns that John had escaped to freedom previously, but willingly returned to The South to teach slaves, to teach Sarny how to read and write. Sarny tells of the horrible abuses some of the other slaves have had to endure on the plantation. This book would undoubtedly provoke emotional reactions. A teacher will have to be prepared to help students manage the experience of reading this book. The only white person shown to any extent in the story is Clel Waller and his maltreatment of the slaves as well as the fact that Sarny's descriptions of him usually include the word 'maggot' may mean that a teacher will have to remind students that while Waller is the most evil piece of snot to learn to speak and hold a whip, other white people worked tirelessly for the slaves' education and liberation. And others did nothing. There is a sequel called Sarny. I'll admit I haven't read it yet. Have any of you read it, my dear but few readers? What were your thoughts? On a much lighter note, did you know that Paulsen has written over 130 books? For reals. The majority of stories involve nature, animals, nature, eating uncooked things, nature, being attacked by wild animals, dogs, the artistic drive, nature, kids surviving in nature, more dogs, his own experiences in nature, etc. So seeing him go historical on his readers was a fresh slant. While I have great respect for him and his work, do you think, just maybe, Paulsen could leave a few ideas and pieces of paper for the rest of us to publish with? Pretty please. Activities to do with the book: Since this story shows characters desperate to learn to read and write, this book would be wonderful for struggling readers to show them the historical significance of literacy as empowerment. Teachers could urge students to do reflective journal writing in response to the book. The book could be paired with lessons on history or could trigger discussions on morality. Since the end of the book does leave the reader with some hope, but lacks an actual conclusion, students could write their own endings to the novel. Favorite Quotes "This is a story about Nightjohn. I guess in some ways it is a story about me just as much because I am in it and I know what happened and some of it happened to me but it still seems to be about him" (p. 13). "You ran and got away?" mammy asked. "I did." "You ran until you were clean away?" "I did." "And you came back?" "I did." "Why?" He sighed and it sounded like his voice, like his laugh. Low and way off thunder. It made me think he was going to promise something, the way thunder promises rain. "For this." "What you mean-this?" "To teach reading" (p. 55). FOR MORE OF MY REVIEWS, VISIT sjkessel.blogspot.com.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whip! Whip! This is what Sarny heard when she watched her good friend being tortured. She felt very terrible because she was what caused his whipping. Later that night she saw the after effects of a harsh whipping. This amazing story of a little slave girl who learns how to read is called Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen. The book is about a plantation in the deep south during the 1700¿s. Sarny, a little girl who learns how to read from Nightjohn a middle aged slave who has once escaped to the north. At the beginning of the book it shows how slave life is bad and explains Sarny¿s life. She lives with a women who¿s not her mother but takes care of her. During the middle of the book Sarny meets Night John a slave who knows how to read. He starts teaching her each letter of the alphabet until the slave owner finds out Sarny know how to read. It end up that Night John gets whipped badly. A few nights later he runs away. Will Sarny learn how to read and write completely? I liked this book very much. I liked it because I learned how slave life was so hard and the realistic effect of punishment for slave bad behavior. I also like how Gary Paulsen writes Sarny¿s speech, which is hard to write because of the speech defect. The way the book ended was very well written and didn¿t give too much information or too little information. I very much liked the book Night John by Gary Paulsen. I recommend this book to many people. I recommend this book to people who are from the ages 11-14. The book tells the reader how slavery really is and someone those ages would be able to understand it. I do not recommend this book to people who are offended by slavery or children below the ages of 11. Also if you love fairy tales of happy endings I recommend this book to you. Thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoy the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was way too short. Its only 50 pages. Thats more like a short story. I was dissapoonted because I wasnt expecting it to be so short. Overall the story was excellant. I wish there was more of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Soft whispers were exchanged in the dead of night. A board creaked as someone made there way across the old shack . The first letters were learned and knowledge didn¿t seem so strange. In the book NightJohn by Gary Paulson a young slave girl named Sarny secretly learned how to read in the dead of night. The slave who risked his life to teach her how to read was NightJohn. Although Sarny does not get to be taught every night she is still learning at a pretty steady pace. This book takes place on the Waller¿s plantation somewhere in the south. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had a good story line and was written very well. My first impression of the book was really good. The way it is written gets you interested. I think the author tied up the book very well. The best parts of the book is when you learn more about NightJohn. His life is very interesting. I thought this book was absolutely wonderful an I would read it again. The theme of this book is very clear. It shows that if you can work hard you can achieve what ever you want to. Also that you should always be thankful for what you have because some people may have nothing. I think this book was challenged because at some points it was gruesome and in one or two spots it was a little inappropriate. I think someone who challenged this book did not like a lot of violence and maybe did not want children to be reading it because of that. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in slavery and how slaves were treated. This book is over all a wonderful book and you should definitely take time to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a horrible book. based on nothing more then magic this is not a historical book try historical fiction at best blease if you are looking to read a interesting historical book on pre civil war slavery look some where else heir is no shortage.  Gary  Paulson is a terrible author who caters to the feeble minded or third graders. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a little girl named Sarny. One day a stranger named Night John was captured and forced to work at the plantation. Sarny approached him with the intent on getting tobacco, but instead he offers to teach her how to read and write. As Sarny learns new words, she goes around writing them when she isn't supposed to. To prevent her agony Night John takes the blame.I think this is a great book. Gary Paulsen writes wonderful stories and this one backs that up. This book has a lot of graphic description in it, so I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under the age of thirteen. At the end of the story it focuses on the events that happened at the beginning of the story, and that helps you understand more.This book is historical fiction. It focuses on the period of slavery taking place in the nineteenth century. It was a great book that explains a lot of the hardships that the African Americans had to face. In all, this was a great book. If there are other books with a similar story line than I would recommend reading them as well. It teaches you what really happened while at the same time drawing you into a great story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crack! Rip! These noises you could hear through out the plantation while mammy was getting whipped. It was a horrible site, but it was often seen on the plantation. Many slaves watched as mammy winced in pain and her step-daughter couldn¿t stand to see her step-mom be harmed. In the book NightJohn by Gary Paulsen a slave girl named Sarny is taught to read. She learns in the dead of night by a man that goes by the name of NightJohn. She was very determined to learn and she learned very quickly. Every night they would sit in the corner of their ¿shack¿ and Sarny learned to read and write. NightJohn was a very clever man and he tried to get as many people to learn as he could. One day Sarny wrote the word ¿bag¿ in the dirt and her mammy got in major trouble for this since slaves were not permitted to read. One evening after everyone had went to sleep , NightJohn took Sarny to ¿school¿ with other slave children from different plantations that NightJohn had been at previously. They all learned together almost like we all do today. NightJohn by Gary Paulsen was a very interesting book. I personally thought it was one of those books where you didn¿t want to put down because you wanted to see what would happen next. It was gripping and exhilarating. Throughout the book there was many exciting and depressing parts. He gives you a mental picture like when he describes NightJohn. Gary Paulsen did an amazing job in writing this book. I recommend this book to any person that would like to understand more about how the slaves were treated during that time period. Anyone who would like to read about the up and downs of slavery. I wouldn¿t recommend this book to someone who doesn¿t like to read about violence and cruel treatment. This book was a very remarkable and powerful story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I teach 7th grade. My students love this book, the video (VHS), and the follow-up, Sarny. I use Nightjohn as a read aloud, then show the students the Hallmark movie. Then the students are 'hooked' on the story of this 12 year old girl and they WANT to read the follow up novel, Sarny, A Life Remembered. A great read that tells the horrors of slavery in a way that 12-14 year old readers can understand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I believe this is one of the best books I have ever read! I have never before read a book in 2 hours, but I read this book in an hour and a half! I absoloutely loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WHEN I READ 'NIGHTJOHN',IT REALLY MADE ME REALIZE THAT BLACK PEOPLE REALLY WERE NOT TREATED FAIRLY.SLAVE OWNERS TREATED THEIR SLAVES HORRIBLY.SOME OF THEM ACTUALLY KILLED THEIR SLAVES.THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD BOOK AND I REALLY DO RECOMMEND IT TO EVERYONE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amaaaaaaazing book!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book xD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to read this book but it should be cheaper
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a level w for advanced readers. Like me. It is a reall great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm watching NightJohn the movie in class,and when mistress slapped Sarny on the cheek it felt like I got hit on the cheek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The people that wriye bad reviews are wrong this is an waesome book but it is short. I dont care because i enjoyed it, And so will you!!!!!!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing stroy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amanzing. I imagined if that was my mother getting whipped and i cried so hard. Nightjohn is a great and loving charachter. Sarny is powerful and caring. This book was too short and should of been cheapier. Still overall good book. A little confusing near the end but you will get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago