Danza De Los Esclavos! / The Slave Dancer
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Danza De Los Esclavos! / The Slave Dancer

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  5,908 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Jessie often wanders the docks of New Orleans, playing his fife to make a few extra coins. One day, he is abducted and taken aboard a slave ship. As part of a cruel exercise routine to keep his human cargo in shape, the ship's brutal captain forces Jessie to play his fife while the slaves "dance".
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Turtleback Books (first published 1973)
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O. Ouellette
Mar 09, 2012 O. Ouellette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all children, people who want to read more than just fluff
Book readers everywhere, please stay your hand (ALWAYS) and think for a moment before denouncing any book as "horrible," "uninteresting," or rating it a 1 or 2, regardless of your age or experience with reading. It is a shame that this book gets such low ratings from some just because its subject matter is serious or because the book itself is deemed "boring" or "not your thing." I see a terrible lack of patience, perseverance and open-mindedness in so many readers, young and old, and that is ve...more
Sarah
A powerful historical fiction book...maybe a little too intense for younger readers, but highly educational and masterfully written. The Newbery is well-deserved. I don't think many elementary-aged students would be able to grasp fully the complexity of the characters and their relationships in this novel--Fox explores the dark depths of human nature and human psychology--but I'm so glad she didn't give us a watered-down version of this period in American history.
Erin
I probably shouldn't even say I read this book, because I got only to page 78 and then gave up. I have spent the last 5 years in children's libraries looking at books trying to decide what to read and/or purchase. I always thought this looked like a good one, after all, it is a Newberry Medal book. I picked this up because my daughter was studying the Transatlantic Slave Trade in school and I wanted a novel to read about the same topic. We began to read it together, aloud. The first two chapters...more
Kyle Pratt
Jan 25, 2013 Kyle Pratt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adolescent or young adult readers
Shelves: fiction
I teach reading to both Junior and Senior high school students so I am always looking for superior adolescent literature. The Slave Dancer, by Paula Fox, winner of the Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children in 1974, is a good choice.

The novel, set in 1840, revolves around Jesse Boller, a teenage boy from New Orleans. Because Jessie enjoys playing the fife, he is kidnapped and forced to work on The Moonlight, a slave ship. His job is to play the fife...more
Linda Lipko
This 1974 Newbery Medal award winning book is by far the most compelling, graphic and intensely dark Newbery I've read. Having said this, you may wonder why I highly recommend this dark tale full of vivid, violent details.

The answer is simply this: Slavery was abhorrently wrong and this book captures the gruesomeness of the slave trade without stopping to the real temptation of pounding home a truth to the point wherein the reader closes the pages. Never exploiting the power of the evil, but hon...more
Austin Wistisen
Term 2 Book Project
By: Austin Wistisen

A quote from Arthur Schopenhauer that perfectly reflects something horrible (prejudice: biased opinion not based on reason) from not only the book that I read, The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox, but also in reality is “The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.” Jessie Bollier (the main...more
Phil Jensen
An abducted ship's boy endures a harrowing and brutal voyage on a slave ship during the infamous Middle Passage. The characters are subtly drawn and complexly ambiguous. The morality, legality, and business aspects of slaving are explained. I loved the intelligence and pacing of this novel.

The question is: Who would put this book in their classroom? It's so horrific and realistic that anyone younger than a 7th grader would get nightmares from it. Furthermore, it's the most recent Newbery I can t...more
Jill
Jan 24, 2011 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mature 13+
Shelves: newbery-medal
Of all the Newbery's I've read so far I have to say this was the most disturbing and emotionally difficult to read. Rightly so considering the subject matter. It is a powerful portrayal of the cruelty on the part of a ship captain and the pain and suffering the captives, mainly, but also the crew had to endure.

"You'll see some bad things, but if you didn't see them, they'd still be happening so you might as well."

"As I sat there on the narrow little bench, breathing in the close clay-like smell...more
Jack. S
Recently I read the book The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. I think that this book was very good in it's own way. In social studies we learned about slaves 2 chapters ago and I think it's interesting that this described what they went through perfectly. Although I don't recommend it's cussing (the n word) over and over and it's gruesomeness. I found it interesting because I never imagined the pain someone can go through by the hands of another person. They also tell you something you (or just me) ne...more
Jill
Fox, Paula; Keith, Eros; The Slave Dancer, Bradbury Press,1973, historical fiction, 5th - 8th, rate: 4.5, lexile 970L

The story is set in 1840. The main character, Jessie, is about 13 years old and can play the fife. One day he is kidnapped and it taken aboard a slave ship. His role is to play the fife for the slaves they capture so the slaves will stay in “shape” and look decent to sell. Jessie witnesses what the slaves have to endure and the horrible conditions they are forced to live in.

I rate...more
Christe
This is a very well-written book. I am unhappy because of all the not-great reviews it is getting. However, it was definitely not what I expected, so some of those reviews are understandable. Once you get into this story, though, it is VERY hard to put down. There are some violent scenes, but , being told through a child's eyes, it's not as bad as it could be. The main character, Jessie, is a boy from the South who lives with his mother and sister. He loves to wander the city playing his fife, e...more
Leila Brooke
I am still in the middle of reading this book, and I have to say, I really am enjoying it so far.Lots of people I know do not enjoy reading this book, mostly because they either think it's too boring or too wordy. I agree, that there are many hard words in this book, and whenever I read it I actually keep a dictionary beside me, but I think this would be enjoyable to a person who likes historical books.
I wouldn't actually recommend this book to just anyone, however, because it does tend to get...more
Matt
Well written and powerful, this story of a boy kidnapped from New Orleans and taken on a slave ship does not shrink from portraying the horror of the Middle Passage (or, though not discussed as much, the horror of slavery writ large). The prose is carefully crafted and I admire the book, but I was kept a little at a distance because of the choice to have the protagonist be a white person. That's one valid way of telling this story, but that authorial decision maintained the enslaved people as an...more
Tabi Lancina
This book is about a thirteen year old white boy who is kidnapped and taken onto an African American slave ship where he is forced to play music for the slaves. He is taken from his world of freedom and witnesses first hand what it was like for black people in that time. This is a good book for kids to understand how privileged they are to have freedom and to also learn about the history of slavery, even though it isn't a true story, it is very realistic. I think this book would be good to read...more
Ruth E.
1974 Newbery winner - Author/illustrator Paula Fox - The story of a young boy who is kidnapped and taken on a slave ship to Africa. The slaves will be brought back to America for sale. His job is to play a flute to so the slaves will dance for exercise. This is the story of his journey there and back. The ship is ship-wrecked and the only surviviors is the young boy,Jessie Bollier, and a young African boy. They end up in Mississippi rescued by a runaway slave who send the young black boy on the...more
Ashley Gor
Please, whoever the editor is for this book, please EDIT PROPERLY
there were so many sentences I can name during the first 50 pages or so that need serious help
I love the idea and plot and characters but honestly it's so horribly written that my brain can't handle it anymore
please help I need a book that I won't drop for once
I bet I would've loved this book if it was written properly.
But I'll keep going because I love the plot and characters
I'll probably die of bad writing
But I don't know if it w...more
Josiah
"You have no idea how much you can get used to".

―Benjamin Stout, The Slave Dancer, P. 24

One just gets a feeling about certain books. Even before reading them, it's as if one can already sense the magnitude of the story, can tell that the reading experience about to be had is so big and important that simply by encountering it firsthand, one has charted new personal territory, has plugged into a culture of great literature that extends back through human history further than we know. The Slave...more
Renate
I'm really getting to be a fan of Paula Fox - this is the second of her novels that I've read in the last month or so. The other, "Desperate Characters", was aimed at adults, and this one is geared primarily towards young adolescents. The story takes place in 1840 and the narrator is a sympathetically portrayed 13-year-old New Orleans boy called Jessie, who's kidnapped from the docks and forced to work on a slave ship, hauling buckets of waste and playing the fife while the captive Africans are...more
Katharine Ott
"In a hinged wooden box upon the top of which was carved a winged fish, my mother kept the tools of her trade." Another Newbery Medal recipient (1974)and another winner of a book. In "The Slave Dancer," Paula Fox writes a grim, but gripping story detailing a horrific voyage of the slaver "The Moonlight." Young Jessie is press-ganged from his neighborhood in the Vieux Carre of New Orleans and endures several months of appalling treatment as he is put to work on the sorry ship.

This story takes pla...more
Grace
I couldn't get much of a grip on the main character, Jessie, until the part called "The Spaniard.” It clicked when someone asked him how he felt about slavery and he responded, "I don't know." I'm not entirely sure why, but suddenly his character clicked. Maybe it's because he didn't have a perfect answer, like he definitely would've in any other story. His character had very human flaws. But I feel like Fox didn’t add as much of Jessie’s emotions and thoughts as she could’ve at parts that reall...more
Emily
Jesse Bollier is a thirteen-year-old boy living in New Orleans in 1840 when slave traders hear him playing his fife on the wharf. They kidnap Jesse and take him on their ship The Moonlight, where he is to play his fife for exercise periods for the slaves so that they will be in good physical condition when they reach the U.S. and can be sold at auction. Jesse is horrified at the treatment of the slaves and the behaviors of the ship’s crew. He is especially aware of a young boy about his own age...more
Sandy
Intrigued as it was a Newberry book and one that I had never heard of before, I had no prejudgments to go upon as I started to read The Slave Dancer. This book is dark and shows the cruelty of slavery which I found difficult for being a Newberry book. Sure, it was 1974 Newberry winner but some of the descriptions of the cruelty and the conditions the slaves were exposed to, should only be for the mature reader. The slaves do not have clothing or have minimum clothing and Jessie is taken back by...more
Linda
"I danced the slaves under Stout's watchful eye...But in truth I was so agitated I could hardly make my fingers work on the fife...I could not help but see the wretched shambling men and women whose shoulders sank and rose in exhausted imitation of movement."

Let me just start out by telling you that some literary critics believe that the book The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox is inappropriate reading for the Junior High grade level due to the violent nature of the story. The plot focuses on a distur...more
Ashley
Fox, Paula. The Slave Dancer. New York: Dell, 1991. Print.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Multicultural
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fix is a story about a young Caucasian boy who is kidnapped and forced to play his flute. The boy’s flute is used to provide music for the African American salves so they can dance and exercise to while traveling to the United States. This story is set in the time around the civil war where many were faced with the harsh reality of moral choices. The stories main setting tak...more
Kasha
This book is a newberry honor book. It is the story of a preteen boy named Jessie who is kidnapped and put on board a slave trade ship. I was not immediately drawn in, but after reading a few chapters, I was very much interesting in knowing what the outcome would be. I like that the story of this complex, ugly piece of history is told through the eyes of a young person. It gives the story naivety and objectivity you can also find in a book like To Kill a Mockingbird. It is a 6.0 on the AR readin...more
Torgy Torgensen
The Slave Dancer
By: Tyler Torgensen
The Slave Dancer was a very interesting book. It tries to capture the feeling of what slavery was like back in the 1800's and it did it so good that it earned a Newberry Medal Award for it. The writer and publishing company of this book took a risk by publishing a book about slavery because it could be banned from certain countries or it could start controversial stuff because slavery is a touchy subject to talk about. The good news is that this book was most...more
Amber
The Slave Dancer was the Newbery Award winner for 1974; it's an old school book, written in an old school style. Therefore, for people who love modern style writing that's quick or not too prosy, this one probably isn't the one for them. It miiiight not hold the attention of an action-driven kid who is more interested in racing around the yard than reading, but I think it is a good teaching tool or a launching point so that parents or teachers could talk to kids about slavery, slave ships and th...more
Sara
The Slave Dancer is a story about a young 13 year old boy, Jessie, who lives in New Orleans during the slave trade era. Jessie is kidnapped and brought to a slave ship heading to Africa. His job is to play music for the slaves so that they will dance. This measure was taken to help them slow the process of muscle deterioration while in severely cramped quarters on board.

The Slave Dancer is one of those books that definitely brings truth to the phrase, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." I origi...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Let me first explain that I had no business reading this book. If was a kids' book, strictly. I picked it up when I was reading a librarians' blog and she seemed to think it was worth recommending. To kids.

I beg to differ. I wouldn't recommend this to any kid I know, and in fact, I'd be quick to un-recommend it. It's one of those books that's trying so hard to be "Newberry Medal" politically correct that it distorts history. Jessie is growing up in New Orleans near the end of the pre-emancipatio...more
Kayla Mendoza
Ultimately, the Slave Dancer is a children's book not written for children. Or, at least my local library classifies it as a children's book and from what I understand it is often read in schools. This is not to say that children cannot or should not read this book--they should--but that most children probably won't enjoy The Slave Dancer. It's very wordy and some of the terms in this book refer to specific parts of a ship, but are not defined, so that the reader must look up the definitions. Th...more
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Paula Fox is an American author of novels for adults and children and two memoirs. Her novel The Slave Dancer (1973) received the Newbery Medal in 1974; and in 1978, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal. More recently, A Portrait of Ivan won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2008.

A teenage marriage produced a daughter, Linda, in 1944. However, given the tumultuous relationship wit...more
More about Paula Fox...
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“You'll see some bad things, but if you didn't see them, they'd still be happening.” 27 likes
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