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Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A much-needed window into a little-documented time in black history

Based on an actual memoir written by Maritcha Rémond Lyons, who was born and raised in New York City, this poignant story tells what it was like to be a black child born free during the days of slavery. Everyday experiences are interspersed with high-point moments, such as visiting the U.S.'s first world's
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  113 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Amy Rae
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
An incredibly charming work of non-fiction, with great pictures! I could seriously look at the portraits of Maritcha's family all day, they're such lovely photographs. My only real complaint is a silly, minor one: I hate, hate, hate the fonts used in this book. They're decorative enough to be distracting and they don't match each other in weight or style, enough so that I found the book weirdly hard to read. If they'd just used plainer typesetting, I'd probably give this book five stars.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book when I started searching other titles by one of my “go to” authors Tonya Bolden. The book is put together in a way I’d like to explore with 4th-6th grade students. The author’s purpose is to tell the story of Maritcha’s childhood in New York City as a free-black during the mid-1800’s AND to describe the people, places, events that Maritcha “may have” experienced based on other historical artifacts, writings of that period. For example, Bolden knows that Maritcha’s grandmother ...more
Jane Irish Nelson
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story of a free black girl in New York City before, during, and after the Civil War. Maritcha lived through traumatic times, but came out on top, eventually writing a memoir that this book is based on. Illustrated with period-appropriate photographs. Recommended.
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl is the perfect example and lesson for middle graders learning about American history, historical research, and primary source documents. After reading the 1928 memoir of Maritcha Remond Lyon, author Tonya Bolden gifted the world with her beautiful life-story, enriching our understanding life and race relations in pre and post civil war lower Manhattan.

Maritcha recalled the wonders of witnessing America's first official baseball game, Knickerbockers
Connie T.
I enjoyed reading this and the photos are a nice addition. However, I really didn't get a sense of who Maritcha was.
David Benjamin
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Summary: I really can't make this sound interesting. I have thought about it for about 10 minutes, but I can't make it sound too interesting. If you are a fan of biographies then you will enjoy this book as you follow Maritcha and her family within New York/ modern day Manhattan.

Analysis: Within the picture book biography, we see pictures of her, her family, and some of the things she was a part of throughout her life. The book doesn't feel like a story told through words, but it felt has if it
Andrea Mack
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is another informational book that gives the story of a girl who was born free during the existence of slavery in New York. It tells about her experience of living in a world where the location of her birth could have changed her fate forever. I would use this book with middle school students especially during their western exploration unit when learning about the North and South in the US.
I gave the book 5 stars because it is classic in the sense that it tells the story of a girl from
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am really glad this book exists. It tells the story of a black girl born free during the time of slavery, who lived a life of comparative luxury in New York - a life not unlike that of white girls at the time, except for the few times racism interfered and was conquered.

The author took her information from Maritcha's own un-published autobiography. I would have like to have seen some of that. I'm guessing it was excluded because this book is aimed towards kids, rather than because it was
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is great for a lesson with getting ti know past history. The book has big font so the students can read and see clearly what the words are saying. The pictures in the book are fantastic and very nice to look at the pages feel really nice in the book also. The author did a great job with thus book as in explaining what has happened and all the words that are easy to understand. The book has nice and smooth pages that are nice to feel when turning the page.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
This is more of an autobiography then a children’s book because of the historical significance and artifacts presented. I learned so much about Mariechia and her family.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-nf
Would also be a good non-fiction resource for teens reading Zetta Elliott's A Wish After Midnight
Meg Petersen
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent book for middle grades to fill in and expand understandings of Black history. Highly recommended.
Morgan Harrison
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Genre: Biography
Awards: Coretta Scott King Award
Audience: 4th - 5th Grade
A) This book would be considered a memoir because it is a biography that has a collection of events and special sources.
B) This is an authentic biography because there are many sources and well-documented.
C) Are there any more book about her? Did she enjoy the social activities as much as the rest of her family?
lola Franco
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
what I really liked about this book was that it's a story of a free black girl in new York. for my daughter, and her class, the environment will be very familiar to them, since it's pretty near to where they grew up. it's also great to have a girl who resembles so much of the population.

in social studies they only seem to read about slavery when there was, at least in the north, a pretty substantial free black population. bolden mentions historical figures like Frederick douglass, who are more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s, biography
I was drawn immediately to the photograph of Maritcha on the cover. I just love old photos and Maritcha looks so lovely and composed. There are several more photos of family members, her sister in what appears to be the exact same dress (or at least fabric and pattern) but seeming more timid.
Maritcha's life begins as a freeborn black child in New York City before the Civil War. Her father and grandfather owned property in Seneca Village, one of the areas razed to make room for Central Park (an
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cheryl by: El Paso Library shelf
Fascinating look into the life of a young woman born in 1848 in New York City.

Central Park exists because whole villages were destroyed. Maritcha's grandparents and parents owned property in Seneca Village, along with black, Irish, German and Native American residents. The residents were on their way to building a stable community with 3 churches and a school. Their property was taken because of plans for what one man called "nineteenth-century America's greatest work of art" the 800+ acre
Almost too short for its own good, the story chronicles the early life of Maritcha who was born in 1848 in New York City. In her later years, she penned a memoir that was roughly kept and then passed to historians, where Bolden took her story as well as others to chronicle black life in the North. Then, she became interested in knowing more about her situation-- how she was raised, what she contributed to society, and what her family did and how they were treated.

It's the story of perseverance
I really liked this book, it is just an amazing story. What I liked best about this book is that it is the story of a person that I believe is not well known all over the country, but it is apparent from her life that she had a hugely positive impact on many people. She become a successful educator and had the chance to pass on her experiences to young boys and girls in her community. It is also very special that the biography used quotes from Maritcha's life from the memoirs she wrote. This ...more
I don't think I had ever read anything about free blacks in the North during the nineteenth century, so was very interested to read about Maritcha's experiences as a young girl. The use of photographs and illustrations from the time period was very effective. Overall, this was an interesting, well-presented story of a young girl.

For some reason, I just felt that this book was missing something. I didn't really feel as if I had any sort of sense of who Maritcha was. A good biography should make
Ashlynn Armstrong
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
This book is about a little girl named Maritcha and her life as a free African American girl during the time of slavery. The book follows the girl from the time she is born until she becomes the first African American in her graduating class at an all white school.

This book was super great and very informative on what it was like to be a free African American during the time of slavery. I enjoyed how some of the pictures were actual pictures.

This book would be interesting to discuss with a class
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Upon reading the first few pages, my decision to 'teach' history through literature was confirmed: Books (both fiction and non-fiction) do a better job at generating interest in the thousands of people and topics that have been omitted from traditional textbooks.

This is an amazing story about a family of freed blacks living and prospering in New York before, during, and after the Civil War. Although blacks had more freedoms than slaves, they were not their own set of unique challenges. I would
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth, biography
I always find myself in the children's section of the library, well, with my children. I do find some fascinating books and this book is included as one fascinating read.
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl is an account of the life of an African American girl born free in New York in 1848. Author Tonya Bolden tells part of Maritcha’s story using her unpublished memoir and historical details about her family and life in New York and New England, including the Draft Riots of 1863.
A quick
This book was inspired by a typewritten memoir the author discovered at the Schomburg Center. Maritcha grew up in lower Manhattan where her family ran a boarding house that was part of the city's "striving class of blacks in the mid 1800s." Maritcha loved school and study. But a violent riot over the Civil War draft chased thousands of blacks from NYC, including Maritcha's family which settled in Rhode Island. The never-married Maritcha went on to become a teacher in Brooklyn.
Laura Flicek
The book had a lot of intriguing and factual information. However, this picture book in my opinion is very dense. Although the pictures are colorful and big, the print is small and there are 34 pages with at least 300 words on every page. This is not a book that a teacher could read to the class, but instead a student would need to choose specific sections to read, or read the whole book over a period of time. The youngest age-group for this book would be fourth grade, in my opinion.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well-written biography of young black girl who was born mid-1800's in NYC, but was forced to flee to Rhode Island. Bio is written based on Maritcha Remond Lyons' memoirs: Memories of Yesterdays: All of Which I Saw and Part of Which I Was (dated 1928). This young girl was gifted with incredible determination to reach her goals.
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Don't let the look deceive you, this is a history book NOT a pretty read-aloud story. There are no illustrations, only primary source photos and prints. It was a really interesting history of a free-black family in NYC during the mid-19th century.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
The life of a free black girl in Civil War-era New York City.
Well deserving of the Coretta Scott King Award.
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would have loved to read a book like this when I was a kid. And I would like to see more like it now.
Alexa Hamilton
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Very well-researched and beautiful book. I'm just not much for portraits of Victorian girls, I guess.
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Author and publisher Tonya Wilyce Bolden was born on March 1, 1959, in New York City to Georgia Bolden, a homemaker, and Willie Bolden, a garment center shipping manager. Bolden grew up in Harlem in a musical family and loved to read; she attended Public M.E.S. 146, an elementary school in Manhattan, and then graduated from the Chapin School, a private secondary school, in Manhattan in 1976. ...more