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Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad

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Inspired by a true account, here is the compelling story of a child who arrives in America on the slave ship Amistad —and eventually makes her way home to Africa.

When a drought hits her homeland in Sierra Leone, nine-year-old Magulu is sold as a pawn by her father in exchange for rice. But before she can work off her debt, an unthinkable chain of events unfolds: a capture by slave traders; weeks in a dark and airless hold; a landing in Cuba, where she and three other children are sold and taken aboard the Amistad; a mutiny aboard ship; a trial in New Haven that eventually goes all the way to the Supreme Court and is argued in the Africans’ favor by John Quincy Adams. Narrated in a remarkable first-person voice, this fictionalized book of memories of a real-life figure retells history through the eyes of a child — from seeing mirrors for the first time and struggling with laughably complicated clothing to longing for family and a home she never forgets. Lush, full-color illustrations by Robert Byrd, plus archival photographs and documents, bring an extraordinary journey to life.

64 pages, Hardcover

First published October 8, 2013

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About the author

Monica Edinger

6 books338 followers
A familiar presence in the world of children's literature and the author of several books for educators, Monica contributes to a variety of publications including the New York Times Book Review and the Horn Book Magazine in addition to blogging at educating alice . She has helped select the winners of several awards including the Newbery and originated and co-ran School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books. A committed educator, Monica began her teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone and currently teaches fourth grade at the Dalton School in New York City. Africa is My Home: A Child on the Amistad is her first book for children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 113 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,832 followers
August 23, 2013
It’s no secret that nonfiction in children’s literature is the buzzword of the day. Thanks to the rise of interest in the Core Curriculum State Standards, kids are currently being urged to read more and more nonfiction in all its many myriad forms. The results are mixed. On the one hand we’re seeing more attention paid to some fine pieces of nonfiction that might otherwise have sunk below the radar. By the same token, some truly terrible nonfiction is getting forced down the gullets of our children by well meaning adults who don’t know the difference between quality and schlock. Even more disturbing, publishers are starting to relabel works of fiction as “nonfiction” on the weakest of justifications. It takes guts for someone to start to write something as nonfiction, then stop, think about it, and proceed to change course entirely and label the work fiction after all. There’s a backbone of integrity to Monica Edinger’s Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad. Though it could easily have been labeled nonfiction, the author and publisher opted instead to give themselves a bit of leverage. 95% of what you’ll read here is true. More to the point, it’s fascinating. A little known story filled with original research that’s a great read from start to finish.

Born in Mendeland, West Africa, Magulu lived amongst family and greenery until the famine struck. Starving, her father pawned his daughter in exchange for food in the hopes of repaying his debt after a year. Yet before the debt was paid, the greedy villager sells Magulu to slave traders that can offer more than her father. On a slave ship called The Amistad she befriends the other children as well as a captive named Cinque. Through Cinque they learn of a rebellion brewing to overthrow the slavers above. The plan works but attempts to steer home to West Africa are thwarted. The Africans are taken to jail in New Haven and there Magulu begins to learn more about the land where she has landed. Yet through it all she never stops thinking of home. Behold one of the rare true tales of 19th century slavery that has an honestly happy ending.

Edinger did originally attempt to write this book as a straight work of nonfiction. As she writes in the Author’s Note, Edinger was forced to choose between writing a book that makes assumptions every step of the way and going the fiction route. She chose the latter. A wise move, honestly, since I can’t tell you how many “nonfiction” books I’ve read this year alone that make broad, all-compassing assumptions but couch them within the words “probably” and “perhaps”, assuming that this will make everything fine and dandy. Freed from the restrictions of nonfiction, Edinger is free to say how Magulu feels about everything from the awfulness of female 19th century dress to snow (which is awesome at first and then, in time, dreary). Her intentions in terms of religion and how she chose to live out the rest of her life has roots in the experiences of her youth. With some extrapolation, it all comes together.

Of course the ultimate irony is that the book is better cited, with more primary source documents and original research, than much of the nonfiction for kids you’ll find today. Edinger took the time to seek out every possible reference she could find to Magulu, and to retrace her steps from New Haven to Farmington and Oberlin. She is able to actually find sympathetic engravings of Joseph Cinquez from the time period (no easy task, I suspect). An extensive bibliography of Selected Sources provides all the sources Ms. Edinger used in the course of her research. If there aren’t any children’s sources there’s a very good reason for that. This is the first book of its kind.

I have read my own fair share of fictional books set in Africa that were written by ex-Peace Corps members or teachers who lived there for a time, and I can tell you that the experience of living and working in Africa does not immediately translate into the ability to keep the book from patronizing the locals. Ms. Edinger mentions in her Author’s Note that she spent two years in Sierra Leone in the 1970s. That means her interests lie there, but do her abilities? With a relief felt deep in my bones I can tell you that the woman knows how to write. Her book doesn’t infantalize the characters. If Magulu feels amazed at things that are new to her, she is at least a kid. There’s a reality to her wonder. Now the Kirkus review of this book found fault with the timeline, saying that the, “narrative occasionally skips weeks or months without alerting readers.” I’m sure that if we were talking about a work of straight nonfiction this would indeed be problematic. As a work of fiction, I wasn’t particularly disturbed.

Then there was the question of religion. Magulu really did convert wholeheartedly and become known as Sarah Kinson when she was older. So if Edinger is to truly enter in the mind of her heroine, she has to show her slowly growing appreciation of the Christian religion. This is tricky territory that requires a kind of careful handling. Of course, none of the captives of the Amistad would have gotten home had it not been for church contributions. It’s not surprising to me that we don’t read many contemporary fictional works for kids that are sympathetic to Christian conversion. After all, it’s a hard topic to tackle well. But since Edinger, for all the that book is fiction, is attempting to veer as closely to the truth as possible, it was an unavoidable element.

The choice of Robert Byrd as illustrator was an interesting one. Byrd’s star has risen considerably, making him a go-to choice for illustrated nonfiction. What I find interesting about using him in this particular book is that he balances out the horror perfectly. Both he and Edinger had the unenviable task of telling a horrific tale (at least at the beginning) for small child readers. It’s important and needs to be told, and by the same token you can sugarcoat the truth. You can’t lie. Edinger handles this by being straightforward without being graphic. When the children come up after the attack on their Spanish captors she writes, “There was blood everywhere. White and African men lay dead and dying.” The accompanying picture is done almost without emotion. We see Africans and white men fighting with machetes and guns, but there’s no blood or grotesqueries. Compare this image with one earlier where Magulu is ripped from her mother’s arms by a slaver. “Sobbing, she held me tight until the traders pulled me away.” In the picture it is a far more peaceful scene, the girl between the two adults but without expression. It’s almost as if Byrd is protecting young readers by downplaying the raw emotions. The question is whether or not this is a good or bad thing. I think that as long as it isn’t displaying images that belies the text, the pictures have a use. This may all boil down to a deeper argument of the purpose of teaching children about the darker moments in history. Where this book lies on the spectrum is up for debate.

Aside from that, though, Byrd has done the book the ultimate service of making it beautiful. If the cover doesn’t convince you then consider the full page renderings of Magulu standing at the deck of a boat returning to Africa by moonlight. Or my personal favorites, the renderings of her dreams in the night of her mother, her father, and the village elders. The other nice thing is that Byrd doesn’t slip in some of the inaccurate images we too easily associate with the slave trade. For example, we’re all familiar with the image of white slavers traveling deep into the heart of Africa to capture slaves. The truth was more complicated than that, with white slavers often doing business with local Africans in procuring the slaves. The pictures reflect that reality.

If I had my way there would be a children’s literary award for every genre imaginable. From graphic and illustrated novels to poetry to comedy in a work of middle grade fiction. Add to that list “Books That Meld Fact and Fiction”. This encompasses every work of fiction based on the true life of a historical figure to some extent, but nothing comes close to Africa Is My Home in terms of sure research, heart, blood, sweat, and tears. Sometimes an author writes a book and you can see the strings. Which is to say, you can see them working as hard as they can to make the title successful. Other authors write a book and it works so well on the page as to seem effortless. That’s the general gist of Edinger’s first for kids. Not the last, one hopes. We need more books that aren’t afraid to take fiction to an entirely new level.

For ages 9-12.
Profile Image for Krista the Krazy Kataloguer.
3,873 reviews268 followers
April 18, 2017
I absolutely loved this book! I think Monica Edinger was right in choosing to tell Sarah/Margru's story as fiction. It felt like I knew her by the end of the book. I loved the design of the book--the many detailed illustrations and the font, which gave the book a 19th-century feel. I had heard of the Amistad but had not known that there were children on board, so I found it fascinating. I can't believe how quickly the girls learned English and arithmetic and other subjects that I don't know if I could have picked up so well, coming from another, non-English-speaking country. I wanted to see them all reunited with their families back in Sierra Leone. It's a shame that the facts about Sarah/Margru's life peter out after her return to Africa. Did she reunite with her family? Did she have any children? How and when did she die? We'll never know.

One thing I wish had been included--a photo of one of Sarah's letters, showing the "faded yet still elegant handwriting." We're so fortunate that those letters were preserved.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in slavery and the Amistad. I'm so glad I read it and purchased it for our library!
Profile Image for Monica Edinger.
Author 6 books338 followers
January 20, 2013
What did I think? Well, I'll only say I've read it around a million billion times at this point.
Profile Image for Roger Clarke.
27 reviews
May 1, 2017
This was a fun picture book to read with fantastic illustrations that go along with it. The topic, while dark, it approached in a way that doesn't hide the harsh truths about parts of the slave trade and the harrowing journey across the Atlantic Ocean on the Amistad. I was familiar with the name of the ship the Amistad, but did not know all the history surrounding the ship and those on board. It is an interesting choice of the author to create a fictional character and place them in a historical setting and event that actually occurs. By doing this, the author tries to convey to the reader how a real child would react if they were on board the ship during the infamous slave mutiny. The story has many sad moments and only at the end is there some happiness and closure. I would recommend students to read this who are studying the American slave trade, or those who are just looking for a picture book that chronicles the historical events of what occurred on the Amistad.
22 reviews
February 6, 2020
Africa Is My Home: A child of the Amistad is written by Monica Edinger. This book has won The Children's African Award, which was the resource I used to find this high-quality text. This book is about Sarah Margru Kinson was war born in Mendeland, West Africa. She was taken from her home and brought to Cuba. Things become worse as she was sold and forced to go onto a boat called Amistad. The African's that were captured decided to revolt, but were in waters that outlawed slavery. The Africans aboard the ship were taken to trail in the United States. After the trail was over, the United States allowed the people to go back to their home in Africa.

Some text and illustration features that stick out in this book would be when the captive Africans were being taken to Cuba, they were under the boat in a dark place. The illustration reflected this mood and experience by having the page be completely black with short sentences written in white words. For example, "It took seven weeks. Seven weeks in a dark and airless hold." The words and illustration allows for the reader to feel empathy and sadness. Also, there are snippets of newspaper articles from the New York Morning Herald and New York Journal of Commerce with dates of 1839 and descriptions of what had happened on the boat with captives.

The story is told from a child's perspective, which allows for middle through high schoolers to feel for this child and the experiences that she was describing. The diverse theme of slavery and capturing that was described, along with the story of this African American child would be a great teaching point when discussing and learning about slavery. Taking the perspective of a child who was taken and sold to be a slave would be a great learning opportunity. The instructional use for this book would be to take on the perspective of this child, understand the feelings this child my have had, and note cultural differences.
Profile Image for Laura.
3,785 reviews94 followers
November 11, 2013
Full disclosure: I know the author. Another disclosure: I work at a school that owns several of the buildings that the Mende stayed in during their time in Farmington, and the founder of the school's brother housed three of them (including Magulu/Margru/Sarah).

So of course there was interest in the book, which also stemmed from the same thing that intrigued the author: there were children on Amistad? We open in Africa, in what's now Sierra Leone, with a girl who has been pawned by her father (interesting parallel to Gen. Alex Dumas' life) and then sold into slavery when the traders made a better offer to the pawn owner. Not speaking Spanish, not understanding what was going on, Magulu is transported to Cuba and then sold to another owner, but the mutiny takes her life in another direction - to New Haven, to a Supreme Court case and to a life that includes time at Oberlin and two returns to her homeland.

Because there's a real paucity of documentation for her life before Amistad and after her return to Africa it makes sense that this is not non-fiction but an attempt at a supposal about her life. The bibliography at the end is geared more towards adult researchers, which was a little disappointing - but perhaps there are no good books about this for the target readers to learn more.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
November 28, 2013
Magulu, who later became known as Sarah Margru Kinson, is nine when she is enslaved, taken from her Mendeland home, and brought to Cuba aboard the Amistad. Some of the captives revolt and insist that the ship sail for home, but they are captured again and put on trial in the United States. The wheels of justice turned slowly even back in 1840 and 1841, but eventually, those on the Amistad are allowed to go free. The author's passion for this story and empathy for the real character around whom she bases this fictionalized account are palpable in every line in the book. She captures quite well the aching, heartrending homesickness experienced by Magulu and Kagne and Teme, the other two girls who were on board with her, and their desire to return home. The ink and watercolor illustrations are filled with details that evoke the times, and accompany maps and archival documents that allow readers to have a glimpse of history through a child's perspective.
24 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2020
“Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad” by Monica Adinger is an illustrated picture book that follows the lives of several Africans as they are removed from Africa, taken to America, but eventually able to return to Africa through a court order. The book was written in 2013 and was a winner of the Children’s Africana Book Award. I accessed the hardcover book through a library and highly recommend this format of the text.

The picture book, which is intended for a middle school-high school audience, follows an African child named Magulu. Magulu was taken from her home in Africa abd brought to Cuba against her will. While in Cuba, her and several other Africans took over their ship, “The Amistad”. Eventually, the Africans aboard were transported to America and put on trial to determine whether or not they would be freed and returned to their homelands. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of the Africans and were permitted to return to Africa.

The text and illustrative features effectively fit with the story being told. The author blended the story being told with images that advanced the story. These images included maps, fictionalized artistic depictions, and historical documents. One of the most powerful artistic depictions was of the slave ship. The author included completely black pages with white text to depict the darkness of the slave quarters.

The text also contained themes of perserverance, African history, and slavery. The author effectively intertwined themes of slavery while also including themes and history relating to the protagonists African culture. While many historical accounts of slavery often start with slaves on a boat or in America, this story begins in the protagonist’s African village and information relating to her hometown and culture.

On an educational level, this text would work great in a middle school or high school unit on slavery. Because it is a longer text, the book could be used in a read aloud but could also be used in a book club. In schools, the story of slavery is often told from a euro-centric perspective. This book takes the perspective of an African and exposes the reader to African culture not often seen in the U.S. school system. “Africa is My Home” is a great way to expose students to new perspectives relating to the era of slave trade in the Americas.
782 reviews84 followers
July 4, 2021
I didn't know there were children on the Amistad. Admittedly I haven't got to the real history of it. My exposure was a film in the 1990s that was not made very well. Oddly in this book there is a curious lack of adult women that were enslaved on the Amistad. Fortunately, the emphasis of this book is with Magulu and not the white men that assisted the people of the Amistad to go back to the continent of Africa. Although the author doesn't explain how she found out Magulu's Mende name; the author's note doesn't reveal where or how she found this out only that she dug deeper into Magulu's involvement in the "Amistad affair". The illustrations are wonderful,in particular the dreams.
Profile Image for Petra Fuentes.
22 reviews
February 7, 2020
I found this book in the Children's Africana Book Award website. It received the CABA award in 2014. The format is a hardcover book. Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger is told by the first person voice of a nine year old girl named Magulu. She was born in Mendeland, West Africa. There is a drought and her family has no food. Her father pawns her for food. She is taken away from her home and ends up in the Amistad. She tells her experience aboard the Amistad and how she and her friends tried to escape. They were accused of murder and the case went to the Supreme Court. They were finally freed and she returned to Africa. I would use this to teach about a different culture, slavery, and her perspective of leaving her home. It would be used with older readers.
Profile Image for Felicia H.
34 reviews
May 11, 2017
I absolutely love this book. This book is based off a true story which makes it even more phenomenal. This book is told from the perspective of a child. She was taken from her home and held captive by slave traders on sailed to Cuba was she was sold to and put on Amistad. The other uses each event to capture the readers attention with applying just enough detail for you to visualize every action. Edinger uses several styles with this writing which included poetry as well. The historical fiction can lead into so many discussion and lesson if you are teacher. I recommend this book.
Profile Image for Fran.
17 reviews
February 13, 2019
Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad is a historical fiction picture-book that would be best suited for students in 4th-8th grade. The protagonist, Margru, who is around 7 years old was taken from her home in Mendeland, West Africa to Cuba where she was taken aboard the Amistad to be sold to Americans as slaves. The story is written from her perspective and the hardships she dealt with while on the Amistad. The author, Monica Edinger, uses descriptive details so the readers understand the pain that these men, women, and children were feeling and terrible things that they witnessed. They were shackled for seven weeks in a dark, airless, compact room where they were in pain and suffering. Once they arrived in America, people were paying to see the Africans because they had never seen people with such dark skin before. Imagine the being put on show like you were part of a circus act! Since Margru and her three friends were between the ages of 7-9 there was a trial that went all the way to the Supreme court to decide if they should stay in America as slaves or be allowed to return home to Africa. Throughout her whole journey Margru dreamed of Africa and dreamed of home but will she ever return?

This picture book is one of the winners of the 2014 Children’s Africana Book Awards. It is a must-read for teachers who are teaching students U.S. History. Since the story was told from the perspective of Margru you can visualize exactly what she was seeing and feeling throughout the story. My favorite part of the book is the dreams that she has about returning home. These are written as poems and the pictures show all the things she misses and loves about her home, Africa. I also love the maps that are included in the pictures that allow the readers to understand the journey of the Africans who were taken captive.
39 reviews36 followers
April 11, 2017
This is a really hard subject to broach with children, and I think this book does a good job of both showing the awful things about enslavement and the Atlantic Crossing, as well as the events of the Amistad and what happened after, while still remaining child appropriate. This book is informative and narrative based and was obviously very heavily researched. I think this book would be useful in a unit on slavery and early American History for fourth or fifth grade students, as the text is long but still interspersed with tons of illustrations. Depending on the school and social location of the students it could also be used to talk about the spread of Christianity and how many people were forced into belief due to a sense of obligation.
Profile Image for Jess Martys.
18 reviews
March 31, 2017
The intermediate book that I chose is titled, "Africa is My Home: A child of the Amistad" by Monica Edinger. It was published in 2013, and focuses on ages 10 and up. It is a fiction book because it is a story that can happen in real life. This story is about a child who comes to America on a salve ship Amistad and then makes the way back home to Africa.

Knowledge: The books main focus is on Magulu and her life to America. DESCRIBE one person that affected her life, and her trip to America.

Understand: She came to America because her father had sent her there. EXPLAIN why her father had to do this, and then DESCRIBE what happened because of it.

Application: The book describes several different images of what it looked like to be on the ship. SKETCH a picture of what you think she was seeing.

Analysis: Many people go through struggles in their lives, maybe not the exact same way that she did though. COMPARE AND CONTRAST a struggle you have experienced and how it affected your life.

Synthesis: Imagine her going to America for a better reason than as a pawn. REWRITE a different way that her life could have gone in America.

Evaluation: She went through many different tragedies throughout the book. CHOOSE the most difficult one and then justify why you think that.

Profile Image for Mary.
66 reviews
March 30, 2017
Gorgeous illustrations by Robert Byrd; carefully researched story by Monica Edinger that delves into issues of the slave trade and the Amistad history, but also American imperialism, cross-cultural difference and assimilation, culture shock. Edinger chose to tell the story from a child's perspective, using historical information on Margru, a child captured and transported on the Amistad. Interesting read and great discussion piece. Great for readers 9 or 10 and up.
Profile Image for Maureen Milton.
269 reviews5 followers
December 22, 2013
This is an outstanding imagined account of the life of a child, Margru, who was taken from what is now Sierra Leone to Cuba & then sold into slavery. Aboard the Amistad, she witnessed its mutiny & recapture, only to be held in New Haven, CT while her future was decided, ultimately by the Supreme Court in 1841. While awaiting her fate, she excels in school and eventually (with a brief return to the US to attend Oberlin) returns to Africa to become a teacher "Of the people I loved and the country I admired" (p 56). This title is both carefully crafted--the research and depiction are impeccable--and beautifully rendered--the illustrations are thoughtful and rich. Especially touching are the images of Margru's dreams, at once misty and distinct. Also, the decision to use brief, poetic white text on black to depict the misery of trans-Atlantic transport in the ship's hold is genius. "Africa is My Home" is an affecting story for any reader, but the language, content and images are aimed squarely at the intended audience. This is a perfect brief work of historical for 4th and 5th graders.
Profile Image for Victoria.
39 reviews
October 19, 2020
Africa is My Home is based on a true story. It recounts the 1839 mutiny that took place on the slave ship Amistad. Little do people know that children were actually on this ship.

Monica Edinger follows the story of nine-year-old Magulu, who has been sold as a slave from her father in Africa to America. Magulu shares the struggles and triumphs of her new life. Each night she has a dream about returning to Africa and being able to see her family again. Edinger does a good job explaining the pain behind all of the families' separations when they are sold. This story is best suited for fifth and sixth graders as it is a bit advanced and covers some more mature topics.

Robert Byrd lends his talents as the illustrator for this book. The illustrations help bring the words to life. They depict how uncomfortable the travel overseas had been, as well as the tension between races.

I found this text on Children's Africana Book Award (CABA) website. It was deemed the 2014 CABA winner for older readers. It tells a heartbreaking story in such a beautiful way.
Profile Image for Marisa.
28 reviews
February 1, 2015
"No one comes home. That is what they told me. No one"

This books follows the events of Sarah Margru Kinson, a young girl from Mendeland (now Sierra Leone) who is taken, along with a few others, on the "Amistad" from her homeland to Cuba. They eventually took over the ship, but were captured. They were taken to court in the United States, but to their luck, John Quincy Adams argued the case well. Contrary to her original thought, they were able to go back to their home, Africa.

Based on real events, Monica Edinger leads young readers through the experiences of a young child. Provided with illustrations that reflect Edinger's writing and excerpts from papers in the past, it is a book that provides visual support for readers who are transitioning into chapter books.
Profile Image for Kate.
989 reviews1 follower
November 24, 2013
Beautifully illustrated and well-crafted story, which is a fictional account of a real girl sold into slavery and caught up in the Amistad mutiny and subsequent trials. Going from the green lushness of West Africa to a black page with white text was chilling as the girl enters the ship's hold. The inclusion of drawings and short newspaper accounts from the time add to the weight of the story. The author's note gives further information along with why she wrote this book.

With the artwork and book size, it appears to be for early elementary, but the book's subject and writing make it more appropriate for upper elementary.
Profile Image for Krista Stevens.
948 reviews16 followers
May 10, 2015
I suggest you start by reading the author's notes at the end. Edinger used as much historical documented material as she could find, but was forced by scarcity of material to add details.

This would be an excellent book for kids grades 3-5 as the story is well-told and engaging (though the ending felt somewhat incomplete and a little rushed - I would have liked to hear more about her life after she returned though that wasn't possible - had I known that ahead of time, it would have helped.

Great illustrations.

I never heard this story growing up- it should definitely be part of social studies curriculum.
Profile Image for Wendy.
951 reviews137 followers
December 4, 2013
Beautifully designed. This book has the knack of concentrating on the most interesting/engaging incidents with just enough of the rest to make the narrative work.
Profile Image for ThePinkCarrot.
526 reviews52 followers
August 18, 2022
Historical Fiction, but all of the story is true. A novel for adults would be awesome to get the fine detail of the history of the Amistad.
January 10, 2019
Wow, I'm really torn about this book. On the one hand, it's a beautiful, well-researched piece of historical fiction about a key historical event. On the other hand, I don't think the publisher targeted the appropriate market for the book, which, sadly, will limit readership.

I'm giving it a 4 because it was an enjoyable, well-written book. I would like to give it a 2 for the format, but that's a publishing/marketing decision so it's a compromise.

The story of the Amistad has so many possibilities for a fantastic novel. A slave revolt? On a ship? That has unintended consequences so the reader stays engaged? Awesome. A picture book that includes full pages of dense text sprinkled throughout? Hmmmmmm....

The picture book format and the artwork make you think that the book is geared toward a younger audience. Then, you come upon some slightly more sophisticated content along with pages formatted as text-only, and it swings firmly into the upper middle-grade category.

Actually, if the story were fleshed out with a little more meat and made into a novel, this book would rock. It would also rock if it were a little more simple and stayed as a picture book.

As a middle school librarian, I don't know how I can get the kids to read it. The students who might actually be interested in a well-researched first-person account are turned off because it looks like a picture book. (Never mind that they would be too embarrassed to carry it around school. Really, that's a thing.) The younger kids who are readers of picture books will find the heavy text and concepts too advanced.

For whom is this book meant?
Profile Image for Misti.
885 reviews5 followers
March 6, 2018
As a young girl, Magulu (later known as Sarah Margru Kinson) is sold into slavery and sent from her home in West Africa (the area that is now the country of Sierra Leone) to Cuba, and from there to America on board the Amistad with about 50 others, including three other children. When the enslaved men revolt and take over the ship, they hope to return to Africa, but the surviving sailors secretly sail back towards the American coast at night, resulting in a zigzagging journey up the east coast, until the ship is captured by the U.S. Navy just off of Long Island. Because the U.S. had by then outlawed the international slave trade, and because the mutiny occurred outside of American waters, the Africans from the Amistad find themselves caught up in a complicated legal battle. Will Magulu ever be able to return to her homeland?

This was a short but very interesting book. I knew little about the Amistad before reading it, and it’s inspired me to do a little additional reading about the events described in the book. Edinger stays close to the facts, which I appreciate, while still producing a satisfying read.
Profile Image for Tracey.
498 reviews17 followers
July 30, 2017
I'll be honest as I did not know much about the Amistad. I knew horrid things happened, and with having to study our own South African History, I never really delved into any other historical stories from other countries.

This beautifully written story by Monica Edinger, is about The Amistad from a child's perspective. Sarah / Margru's story has one hooked from the beginning to the end. I read the book again - that is how much it appealed to me. I then started doing more reading up on The Amistad, which all good books should want to make you to do.

Without spoiling the story for everyone else...... do yourself a favour and read this book.
Profile Image for Bunmi.
231 reviews3 followers
July 18, 2020
I read stories of Black people written by white people with a grain of cynicism. Especially knowing that more white authors are given opportunites to write and publish our stories as if we don't have our own voices to tell them.

Overall, this book tells the wonderful story of the Amistad. Of enslaved people who rebelled and fought for their freedom. It is inspiring and a piece of history I was unaware of. I'm glad the author felt it was a story that needed to be told.

But I also cringed at the white saviorism I found in the way things were portrayed and how overly simplified some of the storytelling was.

I'd be interested in reading this account from another perspective.
1,109 reviews
October 29, 2020
I appreciated the descriptions of abduction from Africa and the ensuing violence from the perspective of a young girl. I also appreciated the clarity of telling about the difficulties once the ship's passengers made it to the north. Having actual memorabilia from the time was very useful as well. Interesting, well done; felt realistic but not overwhelming.
2 reviews3 followers
December 19, 2022
i read this in order to write an essay for school. it was insightful, and the pictures definitely helped to show the story in a more graphic way, which would be helpful for children. i was glad to see the author added an afterword where she explained the writing process and her research. very important book.
Profile Image for Janna Odenthal.
151 reviews
August 21, 2018
Interesting true story that I wasn't aware of until now. I wish more slave stories ended like this one.
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