Prisoner for Libertyby Marty Rhodes Figley, Craig Orback (Illustrator)
James Forten knew how important freedom was. He was a free African American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the American Revolution started in 1776, James was too young to help fight for freedom from British rule. But in 1781, at age fifteen, he took a job on the Royal Louis, an American ship. A British warship soon captured the Royal Louis. James was
James Forten knew how important freedom was. He was a free African American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the American Revolution started in 1776, James was too young to help fight for freedom from British rule. But in 1781, at age fifteen, he took a job on the Royal Louis, an American ship. A British warship soon captured the Royal Louis. James was taken prisoner. The British often sold African American prisoners into slavery. What would happen to James? Would he ever see his family again?
This easy reader presents an episode from the life of an African American who took part in the American Revolution. The son of free African-American parents, 15-year-old James Forten was proud to be fighting for freedom from Great Britain. When the ship that he served on was captured, he was taken aboard the British warship Amphion as a prisoner, where he befriended the captain's son during a game of marbles. Impressed with Forten's bravery and kindness, Captain Bazely offered him an education and privileged life in Britain. Forten was no traitor, however, and chose the prison ship, where he spent seven months under terrible conditions. A preface and afterword supply more details about Forten's life before and after the war. Although there may be fictionalization, a bibliography with primary sources suggests the depth of the author's research. Orback's paintings add to the narrative's dramatic moments and provide period details, though the figures sometimes appear stiff. Forten's life has been covered at a slightly higher reading level in Eloise Greenfield's How They Got Over: African Americans and the Call of the Sea (HarperCollins, 2003). Figley's accessible account will prove useful in studies of the American Revolution and African-American history.-Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Meet the Author
Marty Rhodes Figley is a writer of books for young readers. She is also the author of Saving the Liberty Bell, The Schoolchildren's Blizzard, and Washington is Burning (all OMO History).
Known for his realistic yet painterly works, Craig Orbach has illustrated of a number of books in the On My Own series, as well as the the Kar-Ben picture book, Keeping The Promise: A Torah's Journey, and the Millbrook picture book Nature's Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery of Art and Verse.
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