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Child Out of Place: A Story of New England

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In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860

 : Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780-1860

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Child out of Place-- A Story of New England
A Book Review from Poor Richard Web Press

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October 08, 2005

Child out of Place - A Story of New England by Patricia Q. Wall explores slavery and it's repercussions through the eyes of a 10-year-old Matty, a child servant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1806. It takes readers through the emotional journey of one family’s enslavement and provides an eye-opening account of the human cost and true nature of freedom for former slaves.

After her grandmother and great uncle recount the shocking story of her family's enslavement and road to freedom, Matty begins to plan her escape to find her missing father and fulfill his dream for a better life. But before she can act, a raging fire threatens to change their lives and keep them bound to the Warren family.

The story is a look into a part of the American slavery experience that is rarely talked about: the servitude of Africans in Northern States. Though her family was provided with freedom papers while she was a young girl, the story goes on to describe the implied slavery due to the fear of slave kidnapers as well as the caste-like system between blacks and whites in New England.

The author's intent, it seems, is to provide a book that can be easily read by fourth and fifth graders to provide them with a child's perspective of slavery and implied indenture of Africans in the early history of America. Using the 10-year old Matty to express her fear and hopes helps young readers to more easily identify with her situation, and this part of pre Civil War slavery history.

This book is a nice introduction to the topic of slavery in the North, and provides an ideal framework for upper elementary and middle school teachers to facilitate discussion about slavery, freedom, hope and the perseverance of family dreams. It gives a voice to the many untold stories of slavery in New England. Patricia Wall also provides some nice resources and sources to allow readers to explore this topic a bit deeper. Being only 101 pages with medium size text, children from ages 8 to 12 should be able to read this book in one to three sittings.






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