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The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom
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The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  76 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
When General George Washington is elected the first President of the United States, his wife chooses young Oney Judge, a house slave who works as a seamstress at Mount Vernon, to travel with her to the nation’s capital in New York City as her personal maid. When the capital is moved to Philadelphia, the Washingtons and Oney move, too, and there Oney meets free blacks for t ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Bhebden Hebden
Jan 23, 2017 Bhebden Hebden rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse-books
Children acquainted with the historical portrayal of George Washington may find this story in sharp contrast to traditional teachings of Washington’s past and legacy. The story of Oney Judge, a young slave girl owned by George and Martha Washington, is vividly depicted by author/illustrator Emily McCully through her distinct watercolor illustrations and text that chronicles Oney’s childhood and events that ultimately lead to an adult life with freedom. The daughter of a white indentured servant ...more
May 25, 2010 Josiah rated it it was ok
This is quite a story. Oney Judge, a light-skinned black girl living as a slave to Martha Washington just after the American Revolution, longs primarily for two things: freedom, and the opportunity to stay with her family.

When George Washington is elected President of the United States, Oney's second desire becomes a thing of the past. She is brought with the Washingtons to the new headquarters of the United States President, where she works officially as a slave for Martha Washington but also
Aug 09, 2010 Tirzah rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2016 Kayla rated it really liked it
The Escape of Oney Judge
Author: Emily Arnold McCully
Illustrator: Symon Chow
A well written story about a black girl named Oney who was a slave for General Washington and Mrs. Washington. Even though she was a slave, Oney mastered sewing and she became Mrs. Washington’s dressmaker. As a child she lives with the Washington’s and then she moved with the Washington’s when the General was elected President of the United States.
All the while Oney longed to be free. Overhearing the words “The Creator
May 27, 2014 Shawn rated it really liked it
I thought this children's picture book was interesting because this is one of those things they don't teach us in school. Oney Judge was willed to Mrs. Washington when her first husband died along with several stipulations, so unlike George Washington's own slaves, she would not be granted freedom upon the Washingtons' death. When she learned that Mrs. Washington planned on willing Oney to a relative who was known for mistreating her slaves and whose husband was known for raping the females, One ...more
Round about the time of that "George Washington's Birthday Cake" fiasco, one of my coworkers handed me this book and said, "Did you hear about that children's book? Yeah, this does it better." And damn if she wasn't right. Oney Judge is a slave in the Washington household, chosen to attend Martha Washington as her personal slave in New York when George is elected president. There Oney meets free black people, and finds out that when Martha Washington dies, she will be sent to live with a Washing ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Connie rated it really liked it
The fact that many of our Founding Fathers (including George Washington) owned slaves is one of those things that, as a country, we mostly try not to think about. It's not explicitly taught to children when they learn history, although they all of them learn that silly little story about the cherry tree (which never happened, incidentally). We want to view these people as larger than life, and it's hard to do when they had some major, major flaws.

Of course, hiding from the truth doesn't really g
May 17, 2008 Barbara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gr. 2-4
Summary (CIP): Young Oney Judge risks everything to escape a life of slavery in the household of George and Martha Washington and to make her own way as a free black woman.

REVIEW: McCully tackles portraying the life of a mixed race slave girl who really lived in the Washington household. The story shows the mixed blessing of being a favored house slave – better off physically than most slaves, but still not free - and puts a little reality on the spotless reputation of the Washingtons. This is a
Lauren Moore
Jan 17, 2008 Lauren Moore rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: good teachers
Recommended to Lauren by: Emily Arnold McCully
Shelves: kid-books
Did anyone hear Howard Dodson on WNYC this morning? He was on the Brian Lehrer show explaining the problems with the ways slavery is taught to kids. (a href="!
He's found that textbooks and history curricula fail to convey the ways slavery was integral to this country's foundation. Kids instead are taught slavery as over-simplified narrative which begins in 1820, leads to the civil war, and then ends. He also mentioned that teachers often fail to humanize s
Apr 30, 2014 Adriel rated it really liked it
A beautifully illustrated children's book about a slave of Martha Washington who escaped to freedom not because of abuse but because of her commitment to the right of humans to be allowed to decide their own life's destiny. It shows Martha Washington in a decidedly poor light, in every picture she has a grumpy face and the book states the fact that the Washingtons kept their slaves moving between their homes so as to avoid letting any of them go free from local laws. I like that the author bring ...more
Olivia Lagore
This book shows the flawed side of the begins of America by telling the story of Oney Judge, a slave in the household of George Washington, who escaped to freedom.
Filled with many allusions to other famous historical persons, such as Senator John Langdon, this book provides a glance at the fact that freedom in the U.S. was not always that free, without disrespecting the nations ideals or prominent figures.
A good book to have students read when studying Lincoln, the civil war, Washington, the bi
May 19, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: lis-565
A very interesting and unconventional book. I say unconventional because George and Martha Washington come off as being rather...unfair and ignorant, which is a bit of revisionist history. It's almost a little bit disturbing. But this would be a very interesting book to introduce the ugly history of slavery to children. It's not gruesome but it explains the principle of freedom very clearly and very well.
Sep 29, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: ch-02-award
I have to say I did like this book, but it wasn't the best of the best in my opinion. The storyline was good I'll admit. All of the pictures were nice, and big which I like. I didn't like how they treated Oney at times either. The use of colors were very nice as well. I also found the story a little interesting too. It's a good book for learning about History. I would recommend for young children to read.
This book really makes me appreciate my freedom. I couldn't imagine what my life would be like if I had to constantly worry about whether someone was going to come arrest me if I ran away. I think this book would be good for a history lesson. By relating the material through a book would be a great way to give some background information.
Brandi North
This book truly makes me appreciate my freedom. I couldn't imagine going through every day having to do and listen to very thing someone else told me I had to do. I also couldn't imagine not being able to learn to read or write. It's almost as they want you to be handicapped. Very informative book, I think would be great for second gradersb
Christine Turner
Young Oney Judge risks everything to escape a life of slavery in the household of George and Martha Washington and to make her own way as a free black woman.

Subject: Slavery -- Juvenile fiction
African Americans -- Juvenile fiction
Interesting story the author found hidden. The story was quite good and the pictures were good. I'll pull this out for the 4th graders unit on the Underground Railroad so they will know that slaves were running away long before the Civil War.
Apr 12, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Martha Washington didn't come off so well here. But after years of hearing the tourguides at Mt. Vernon say wonderful things about the Washingtons, it was nice to see it from a different perspective.
Sep 20, 2013 Scbrajer rated it liked it
Very informative book with bright illustrations. This book demonstrates the courage of a young girl fighting for her freedom.
An excellent illustration of the truth that slavery is inenviable even if your masters treat you kindly. Lots to talk about with the kids who read it with you.
Jan 24, 2013 Rebekah rated it it was ok
I read this book to my kids and none of them cared much for it.
Kelly rated it it was ok
Jul 23, 2015
Zoe rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2016
Lisa rated it really liked it
Aug 16, 2011
Anne Swan
Anne Swan rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2017
Miri rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2013
Sarah Gleydura
Sarah Gleydura rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2014
Lori Gravley
Lori Gravley rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2017
Apr 11, 2017 Eme87 rated it really liked it
This story is about a young woman who was a slave of Martha Washington. Martha felt she was practically one of their own but Oney was not free. She wanted freedom more than anything and when she found a chance she took it. Life was still precarious and there were dangers for her, but she was able to find a place to live and kind people to help her.
Krupa rated it it was ok
Mar 14, 2012
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Emily Arnold McCully received the Caldecott Medal for Mirette on the High Wire. The illustrator of more than 40 books for young readers, she divides her time between Chatham, New York, and New York City.
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