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Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,104 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
Kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold as a slave in 1761, a young girl is purchased by the wealthy Wheatley family in Boston. Phillis Wheatley--as she comes to be known--has an eager mind and it leads her on an unusual path for a slave--she becomes America’s first published black poet. “Strong characterization and perceptive realism mark this thoughtful portrayal.”-- ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1996)
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Teen Historical Fiction
114th out of 1,006 books — 2,480 voters
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Books about American slavery
82nd out of 226 books — 269 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erica Ravenclaw
Jun 24, 2014 Erica Ravenclaw rated it it was amazing

The Five Books That Made Me Fall In Love With Reading: #1

I got asked an interesting question recently about how I fell into the world of book blogging, reading obsessively, and generally being a bookworm that got me thinking. My answer was fairly generic and one most of you can relate to, that I've always been this way. As long as I could remember I felt an affinity for books, providing something that I otherwise could not achieve. I was always a child in my own mind, lost in the clouds of
Sep 21, 2008 Staci rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves historical fiction and strong women main characters!
Read this book a while ago but I had to add it to my books. Ann Rinaldi is hands-down my favorite historical fiction writer!! This book was fantastic because it introduces the reader to Phillis Wheatley, a woman who played an important role during the time period of the American Revolution. The fact that she was a woman, a slave, very well educated, could read and write Latin, wrote poetry, traveled to England to meet royalty, and had Benjamin Franklin tell her to never leave England, because he ...more
Apr 29, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
I think I've read the majority of Ann Rinaldi's historical fiction novels.

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is my favorite of her books. After reading this book in eighth grade, I wrote my first research paper on Phillis Wheatley and her poetry.

I really learned to admire Phillis Wheatley. Her story was inspiring to me. It made me want to write. And of course, because it is fiction, the author added a little bit of love intrigue into the story. I remember wanting Phillis' love interest to love
Mar 02, 2008 Lulu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-blythe
There are a lot of words that would describe this book: Thrilling. Exciting. Great. Spectacular. Interesting.

The true story of an incredible woman slave, Hang A Thousand Trees With Ribbons is both sensitively sweet and daringly exciting. I loved the author's writing style.

Ann Rinaldi has actually written many, many historical books. I love how she puts her own fictional twist on most of the true stories.

Adriana Murphy
Feb 17, 2014 Adriana Murphy rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. It described the whole life of a small slave girl, Phillis Wheatley, who was captured form Africa and brought to America. The book showed how Phillis changed from the beginning of the book when she just arrived in America, to the end of the book. The book showed that anything is possible if you try. Phillis was just a slave, but she was determined to learn to read and write, and she did learn. After she learned how to read and write, she found that she had a passi ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Hilary rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-for-fun
I picked this up after doing a presentation on the history of African American children's literature for a class last quarter. Phillis (Keziah) Wheatley was the first black woman to be published in America--this is pre-Revolutionary War we're talking. Anyway, this is obviously historical fiction, though, of course, like any other book from the genre worth its weight, based on historical documents like letters, diary entries, newspaper stories, etc. In the editor's note, Rinaldi explains what in ...more
Nov 18, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I had heard of Phillis Wheatley, first black American poetess, contemporary of George Washington, but that's about it. This book "put a face" on slavery, particularly for young female readers. They show Phillis as a young teenage girl, often fickle, given to crushes on the master's son and unsure of her own heart. Most interesting for me was the perspective of what happens to a girl who is pampered, even spoiled by her kind owners (but never considered a family member) ...more
Adriane Devries
Ann Rinaldi’s Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is a wonderful portrayal of the life and times of Phillis Wheatey, an African slave whose unusual education and writings eventually earned her freedom during the tumultuous Revolutionary War era. From her nightmare aboard a slave vessel, to her early education in the home of the caring and well-connected New England Wheatley family, we see young Phillis grow into a passionately literate teenager, willing to risk ostracism from the many white faces ...more
May 06, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it
I found this book compelling; a real "page turner" and read it in 3 days (which meant staying up late to do so!).

The overall story is a poignant one and the author has the sense and professionalism to devote the last chapter to letting the reader know which parts were founded in fact and which parts an elaboration on her part.

I would have liked to give the book 5 stars, but I felt it fell short on a couple of important points:

There is an interweaving of conjecture and fact that runs through the
Apr 13, 2015 Janie rated it really liked it
What an enjoyable and informative historical fiction about Phillis Wheatley. I knew her name and that she was known as America's first black poetress, but I never knew anything else. Ann Rinaldi, who writes primarily for young people, works her storytelling magic again and does not disappoint. As with any historical fiction, I always learn more about the nuts and bolts of life at that time than I even would in a purely nonfiction book. It's true again for this one: "Fiction reveals truths that r ...more
This novel says it is a fictionalized account of Phillis Wheatley life. I enjoyed the story and feel Rinaldi did well with her research on Wheatley's life. That being said, I was disappointed that Rinaldi chose to add the story of Wheatley's mother being killed on the slave ship when there is no evidence to suggest that. I also found it disturbing that Phillis was named after the slave ship that brought her to America.

I was saddened that Wheatley life ended in so much sorrow. Rinaldi did not in
Robin Garnica
Aug 09, 2009 Robin Garnica rated it liked it
I found the historical part of this book interesting. It is set in Boston around the Revolution. I had never considered the implications and meanings of freedom in ways that were brought to light in this book. I feel like the writer was partial in her description of the main character, and I would have liked more depth to the character. On the other hand, I believe the writer just had some facts and was trying to put a personality to the facts, so my ideas on a different type of character probab ...more
Feb 24, 2011 Peggy rated it it was amazing
This is another historical fiction novel by Ann Rinaldi focusing on Phyllis Wheatley, a girl who was kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold as a slave. She is purchased by the Wheatley family and is allowed to learn to read. When the Wheatleys discover she has a gift for writing poetry, they have her perform for guests, and she is sent to England where her book is published, the first book of poetry by an African American woman. Despite her accomplishments, Phillis struggles with who she is ...more
May 05, 2008 Rochelle rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book although I felt some of the characters were a little stock. Knowing how Phillis Wheatley died made the book more poignant. To be "saved" from slavery, poverty, and ignorance, but not from racism creates a rather tragic future for Miss Wheatley. In spite of-and maybe because of-her refined and educated upbringing, talented and erudite Miss Wheatley was still ill equipped for the harsh realities of being black in post-colonial America.
An easy to read fictionalized story of a girl who was captured and kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold to a wealthy Boston family in the late 1700s. They actually treat her well, realize she is intelligent, and educate her. She starts writing poetry but Bostonians are not willing to accept the fact that a Negro girl can write poems, and not willing to buy her finally published in England books. This story is based on a real woman, who lived the life and died in poverty at a young age.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 03, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it
Phyllis is a slave who was sold in 1761. She was sold by a member of her own tribe who didn't care for her brother. She was sold for 72 cowrie shells. Although the slavery program was run by white men, many blacks in Africa became involved in selling other blacks, such as in this case.

Although Phyllis is 17 in the main part of the book, part of the book deals with her recalling what happened to her when she was sold and then shipped to the U.S. on a slave ship. Conditions were horrible, and her
Cristal (Professional Book Procrastinator)
This is one of my absolute favorite books. Ann Rinaldi is a great writer. I couldn't put it down. This book got me interested in reading more historical fiction books.
Nov 22, 2008 Katherine rated it really liked it
I loved it. It was a little too long at times, but overall incredible.
Oct 03, 2015 Tanya rated it it was amazing
I put off reading this book for years even though a student told me that she loved it. It seemed ling and I was afraid it wouldn't be that interesting. Wrong! I could hardly put it down. My favorite books are historical fiction that have been very well research and have authenticity about them. It's even better if the author puts notes about his/her research at the end, which this book has. It is engaging to learn about the life of Phillis Wheatley. She's come alive to me as a person, not just a ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
tis is like one of my favorite books!! it was very very good. read it
Feb 01, 2009 Loraine rated it it was amazing
Wonderful historical fiction of the first Aferican American poet.
Apr 23, 2016 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Oh how I absolutely loved this book.It was very inspiring to me.Phillis showed her strength a lot of times,she also showed how hard it was to be a girl of her race at the time.But I'm glad the Wheatley's took her under their wings,to me she deserved it after what had happened to her before.She also was a person who loved very dearly,And though the author doesn't go into so much of what happened after she married,I think that Phillis deserved happiness,something that we all also deserve.Overall,t ...more
Danielle Lee
May 05, 2016 Danielle Lee rated it liked it
When you first start to get into the book, you might say something like this, "Oh I think this book is weird, crazy, and scary" But I think this book is absolutely cool, it is sort of action packed, and you never know whats going to happen next. It shows the historical diseases such as smallpox. They also showed like how easy it was for smallpox to spread. Heres even more shocking news... Im an 10 1/2 year old speaking. I know this may be a little spoiler... but It is the best book that shows ab ...more
Nov 15, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
The first time I ever heard the name of Phiilis Wheatley was on the Freedom Trail in Boston. As is my custom when I travel, I hit up the gift shop in search of books when I finished touring The Old State House. At the time I didn't find any books about the first African American Poet and ever since I have been on the look out. Finally, during my most recent trip to the library I found this title on the shelf. I was not disappointed. Even though some of her story was embellished for the sake of f ...more
Ann Valdez
Feb 21, 2015 Ann Valdez rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Absolutely everyone
Ann Rinaldi is one of the greatest historical fiction writers for youth and this book must be one of her best. I may say that after reading each book, but the story of Phillis Wheatley is brought to life in a most moving fashion. At times, I felt as if my heart would burst as I read of her experiences. When I finished, I thought, all studens should read this book! It is truly a five star book. Thank you, Ann Rinaldi, for making history interesting and giving it to us in a story which will help u ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical fictional piece discussed the life of the black poetess, Phillis Wheatley. Phillis was originally captured from her birth place in Senegal, in which both her friend and mother were captured and put into slavery. As slaves, they were forced unto a ship, that endured the middle passage, and landed in the US by way of Boston, MA. She was sold to the Wheatley family when she was 7 years old, and did not know any English, nor could she read or write in English.

Phillis was taken in by
By: Ann Rinaldi total pages:352

Hang a thousand trees with ribbons by Ann Rinaldi is the story of a slave and her life with the family who owns her. This slave is a girl named Keziah which is the name she was born with, but as soon as she was bought by the Wheatley family they changed it to Phillis. When Phillis was captured into slavery, she was only 7 years old. she was promptly bought by the Wheatley family and began working for them in her new home. Phillis was glad that she was bought by a
Oct 18, 2010 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2013 Bridget rated it really liked it
Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is the unknown story of Phillis Wheatley and her life as the first women African-American poet.

Phillis was one of several slaves at the Wheatley House in Boston, MA. When the Wheatley's discover her talent for writing poetry, they begin to mold her future by having her "perform" for important guests. Eventually, Phillis is sent to England to have her first book of poetry published. Although Phillis is adorned with fame, she is still troubled with her way of l
John-marshall Neshwaueshwa
Aug 08, 2013 John-marshall Neshwaueshwa rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: proponents of slavery
Shelves: racist-bullshit
This book was among the most surprising I've ever been required to read in school. Its frequent use of stock characters that were used in Antebellum literature to condone slavery, i.e. the unassuming Aunt Jemima house negro, the degenerate field negro, and for that matter, the mythical soft-hearted George Washington was wholly unacceptable. For that matter, the clear sacrifice of accuracy for patriotism, instilled in the children who were obligated to read this farce a belief that slavery was in ...more
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Ann Rinaldi (b. August 27, 1934, in New York City) is a young adult fiction author. She is best known for her historical fiction, including In My Father's House, The Last Silk Dress, An Acquaintance with Darkness, A Break with Charity, and Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. She has written a total of forty novels, eight of which were listed as notable by the ALA. In 2000, Wolf by the Ears was lis ...more
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