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Amos Fortune, Free Man

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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  4,787 ratings  ·  240 reviews
Winner of the Newbery Medal!

When Amos Fortune was only fifteen years old, he was captured by slave traders and brought to Massachusetts, where he was sold at auction. Although his freedom had been taken, Amos never lost his dinity and courage. For 45 years, Amos worked as a slave and dreamed of freedom. And, at age 60, he finally began to see those dreams come true.

"The mo
...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 1st 1989 by Puffin Books (first published 1950)
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75th out of 100 books — 262 voters
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Community Reviews

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Wendy
I did my best to rate this what I might have rated it as a child, or maybe if I'd read it back when it was written.

As a book, I would probably rate it highly in a list of similar children's biographies for interest and readability.

Amos Fortune had a very interesting life, and a new biography of him would be great.

But this book is almost unreadably racist and patronizing. If it weren't for the award, it would certainly have been weeded from school and public libraries long ago. I don't know wha
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Josh
The thing that struck me most about this book is that Amos is not tortured or horribly hurt in any way by being a slave. He isn’t raped or beaten or anything else. I think that this is what makes the book interesting. It does not matter that you are mistreated and hurt by being a slave. That is not really the point. That’s not what is horrible about racism. Racism is people not paying you for your work even though it is excellent. Racism is people not letting you sit in a pew at church. Racism i ...more
Marfita
Nov 18, 2011 Marfita rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: children-s
There is precious little information about the man who became Amos Fortune and I would not send anyone to this book trying to find any. As a novel, however, it is very affecting. I'm sure research was done into the slave trade to get background information, but if Fortune left no written record himself of his youth, then that part of the narrative is so much marsh gas. If he had been just a villager, rather than a "king's son," where would his nobility have come from? He has to fall far. It isn' ...more
Josiah
This truly is an exceptional juvenile biography, told in the form of an historical fiction narrative. Elizabeth Yates is one of the most sympathetic and caring authors that I have ever read, and she brings this benevolent approach to the sad but inspiring story of the heroic true figure Amos Fortune, an African prince who was sold into slavery at the age of fifteen and spent the next forty-five years working hard for various slave owners, trying to buy his own freedom and, eventually, the freed ...more
Ann Carpenter
I had grave misgivings before I began reading this book. It won the Newbery Award, yes, but it won in 1951, and it's a book about a black man written by a white woman. In 1950. That's enough to give me a bit of a pause entering into the reading experience.

On the whole, the book was not as racially insensitive as I thought it would be. That doesn't mean that it's a shining example of careful research and subtle characterization, just that it's not as bad as it could have been.

It's interesting to
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Kelsey Ludemann
I read this book in 8th grade, and I decided to read this book for my Newbery Awards assignment because of the many years between the two readings. I am glad I did. I didn't remember the plot as well as I thought I would so a lot of it felt new to me. Elizabeth Yates is a wonderful writer and there are some very reflect-worthy quotes in this book:

"It puzzled Amos that the white people put so much stress on Sunday. Yet it seemed somehow similar to the stress they put on the color of a man's skin
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Annelisa
I have/had fond memories of this book, which I first encountered in middle school. I found it in one of the many book bins in one of my classrooms. I kept thinking about it through the years, and was glad when I was able to get a copy later. However, after rereading the book in college, I find that I have some serious issues with it, much of which has been mentioned in earlier reviews. Handled the proper way, the story of Amos Fortune, a figure who no doubt had a fascinating and complex life, c ...more
D.C.
The story itself is really not that bad, but the fact that the author made up the majority of the story based upon the few facts available on Amos Fortune's life sort of disturbs me. The details of slavery and prejudice are very glossed over and are not realistic at all. Amos is depicted as being happy all the time, and although I don't doubt that he was a very upbeat person, not one time in this book is he sad (although he gets angry at one occasion). I just didn't feel like I got a very good t ...more
Chris
Good book for kids - read it to my daughter. It is more of a fictionalized biography because so little is known of Fortune's early life. And the author does present it from their 1950's perspective (taming & Christianizing the noble savage and Fortune seems to mostly come in contact with kindhearted white people and slavery is not depicted nearly as bad as it was), but on the whole I think it is a good way for kids to learn more about slavery and living a dignified life, even when you have i ...more
Linda Lipko
Born the son of the King of an African tribe, when he was 15 he was herded up with other village members, shackled and held as cargo in the ship until reaching New England whereupon he was sold on the slavery block.

This is his story from the time he arrived on colonial soil through the years he was a slave who eventually was freed, married and owned property.

This is a story of hope and courage. This is a story of the tragedy of slavery and the bravery of those who bore the burden.

A 1951 Newbery
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Rachel Anne  Boody
An amazing story of how a man buys his own freedom after slavery and respecting his white masters. He goes on to free many other people and settles down in a town called Jaffrey as a tanner with his wife and adopted daughter. His life and service to others was amazing and inspiring to read about during this incredible story of hope, loss, and love. One of my favorite passages was when he was telling Louis' children about Africa and singing songs with them as well. Also one of my favorite parts o ...more
Guatemala
Loved the book. Learned a lot. Eye opening.

I think that part of reading a historic book, fiction or non fiction, is to understand concepts and believes of that time, whether simple or complex, wide spread or not. Not because they were right or wrong, or that practices and believes, were acceptable or not then nor in our post modern society, but because they existed and were real, if not for all people, for many or some.

When I read any book I want or a book that my children are going to read I ha
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Carl Nelson
1951 Newbery Medal recipient.

Thought-provoking, interesting fictionalized story of a man captured in Africa and taken to America as a slave who is able to buy his freedom. There is little record of the real Amos Fortune; the story that Yates gives him is dramatic and moving. While I suspect she's used strong poetic license, she uses it well.

The issue that I had with this book is that it shows a paternalistic racism of the 1950s much more than the true nature of the slaves' experiences. For examp
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Benji Martin
Let me start out by saying that I think the children on the 1950s must have been very confused about slavery. First they get the movie The Song of the South which came out in 1946. They see Uncle Remus whistling with the bluebirds, singing songs and telling stories all the time. Seems like a pretty good life. Then in 1950 Amos Fortune comes out. It’s the story of an African prince who was kidnapped by slavers, taken across the ocean and sold into a Quaker community. He never had a cruel master, ...more
Kari
Good story, but I quickly grew tired of the writing style. Lots of slow parts that made the story seem duller than it should have been.
A.B.
I remembered this book as a favorite of my childhood, so I recently re-read it and found it… sigh… sorely disappointing. When it won the Newbery in 1951, perhaps it was seen as revolutionary for that time because the protagonist is this awesome African-American guy—honorable, decent, loving, trustworthy, hard-working, etc. But the story is so heavy-handed, and the view of slavery and African-Americans so… white… that I cringed a lot while reading. These days, I’m glad we’ve got the #WeNeedDivers ...more
Scott Hayden
Amos Fortune is my hero. Quiet perseverence, diligent, charitable - even when it costs him. But isn't that the only kind of love there is?
Debbie
Dec 30, 2013 Debbie added it
64 1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Dutton)

historical fiction

This story tells of the life of Amos Fortune. Amos was originally named At-mun and was born the son of a king in Africa. He was taken by slave traders to New England. There, he was fortunate to have a kind owner and he eventually bought his own freedom. He later bought the freedom of two wives who proceeded him in death and a third wife and her daughter. He became a kind and prosperous tanner.

"Blossoms of brilliant hu
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Olivia Kirkham
A story of a man of true morals. This book is amazing because it is a true story of a man who was a man of God no matter what happened to him. He was a prince in Africa and then was brought into slavery by Americans. It is heart breaking what this man went through but it is extraordinary how he stayed a happy and grateful man through all of it. He was fortunate enough to be put in homes that loved and cared for him. That's why his name came to be Amos Fortune. I would have everyone read this sto ...more
Axel Kim
Amos Fortune Free Man is about a kid from Africa who was the son of a tribal leader. While he was being crowned as king, slave traders attacked the village and he and some of his villagers were taken away from their homeland by ship. Once the ship arrived to America he was bought and given the name Amos Fortune. Luckily, he is purchased by a Quaker family who believes slavery is wrong. This is the story of a slave and how is gains his freedom and helps other slaves gain their own freedom. I woul ...more
Meghann
Mar 30, 2015 Meghann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
I read this book for school and I would have to say it was one of the best books in school I have ever read.
Andressa
As far as biographies go, Amos Fortune is a great children's version. I thought the stories and presentation and surprising complete equality of perspective were beneficial and served their purpose well. This book gives a look into slavery without being too harsh, however, this makes it slightly unrealistic. Only slight references to the actual abusive and humiliating facts of slavery were made; most slaves did not live as Amos did. But I did appreciate the emphasis on the importance of freedom ...more
Kim
This excellent juvenile biography portrays a man of faith and perseverance. Amos Fortune was an example of a man who took what was evil done to him (a long life of slavery) and with God's help, turned it to good (using his life to help so many others). He was a hardworking man of integrity, earning the respect of his white neighbors, and buying the freedom of other slaves. I could tell you more about his many, many accomplishments, but I wouldn't want to ruin the story! There is much to be admir ...more
Anna
Really cool book! We read this out loud and it was amazing!
Breanne Driesel
Talk about an inspiring story I learned so much from this man. Amos and his life are a perfect example of what someone can do when they are "Agents who act!". In my opinion Amos lived like a King his whole life because he understood how to serve and love others. All that he did, he did to benefit someone else's life, even if their life wasn't going to be very long. I learned from his example of enduring. He was a great man and after reading his story I now wonderful just how many more men and wo ...more
Malinda
Amos Fortune, winner of the Newberry Medal, is the inspiring true story of an African prince. Captured and sold into slavery in New England, Amos dedicated his life to searching for his sister. After purchasing his own freedom, Fortune became a prominent tanner in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Working well into old age, he purchased the freedom of several other slaves and worked to care for the poor in his community. This is a story both heartbreaking and inspiring that I enjoyed equally as a middle s ...more
Jessica
My favorite thing about this book is the theme. It does a very good job of making the reader aware of the fact that when you are blessed with good fortune in a hard time, it is important to help others. I think that the story of Amos Fortune is a great way to illustrate that lesson. That being said, I think that there might have been a little too much extra, unimportant, detail about his life. I think that because the theme is so evident, the extra facts deter the reader from the main point of t ...more
Liesl Hawkins
I really liked reading this book and learning about what a great person Amos Fortune was. He was definitely a great example of one that always thinks of other before himself. Sometimes I thought that he did that too much and could have given himself a bit more. He was a very hard working man who so many people looked up to, even white people. That was a miracle for his day. I hope that when I am given great things in life, I can show my gratitude by helping and serving others like Amos Fortune d ...more
Verena
I listened to the audiobook of this novel. The narration was fine, it wasn't particularly thrilling, but it had a dignity to it. The story itself seemed misleading. Taken from his African tribe to be sold as a slave in Boston, Amos initially ended up with a family that hadn't been slave owners, taught him to speak and read English, taught him a trade as a weaver, and accepted him as part of the family? In the 1700s? Not very likely. Then gets sold to another family after his prior master dies, a ...more
A-man
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Elizabeth Yates, author of over forty books for children, was born in New York State on December 6th, 1905. Determined to be an author, she moved to New York City to launch her career. She worked a variety of jobs including reviewing book, writing short stories, and doing research. She moved to England with her husband and wrote her first book, High Holiday, based on her travels in Switzerland wit ...more
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