Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Slave Dancer” as Want to Read:
The Slave Dancer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Slave Dancer

by
3.66  ·  Rating details ·  8,630 Ratings  ·  405 Reviews
Jessie Bollier often played his fife to earn a few pennies down by the New Orleans docks. One afternoon a sailor asked him to pipe a tune, and that evening Jessie was kidnapped and dumped aboard The Moonlight, a slave ship, where a hateful duty awaited him. He was to play music so the slaves could "dance" to keep their muscles strong, their bodies profitable. Jessie was si ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 12th 1997 by Laurel-Leaf Books (first published 1973)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Slave Dancer, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Stacy Renee (LazyDayLit)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
O. Ouellette
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Kyle Pratt
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox
عنوان: برده رقصان؛ نویسنده: پائولا فاکس؛ مترجم: مصطفی رهبر؛ تهران، کانون پرورش فکری؛ 1359 در 204 ص؛ چاپ دوم اردیبهشت 1361؛ چاپ دیگر: چاپ سوم در 195 ص؛ چاپ چهارم 1366؛ چاپ پنجم مهر 1368؛ شابک: 9644323521؛ چاپ هفتم 1382؛ موضوع: داستان برده داری و برده فروشی از نویسندگان امریکایی قرن 20 م
فهرست: فرمان 5؛ مهتاب 19؛ طنابهای دکل 47؛ خلیج بنین 65؛ نیکلاس اسپارک روی آب راه میرود 89؛ مرد اسپانیایی 113؛ اشتباه بن استاوت 141؛ پیرمرد 167؛ بازگشت به خانه و بعد 185؛
با این واژه ها آ
...more
Linda Lipko
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chapter-books
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.
Chris
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley and Open Road Media.

The best new television show for the 2015-2016 year is Underground. Shown on the WGN network, the series is about a group of slaves in the 1850s trying to escape. At times the show, as most television shows do, stretch the bounds of believability (how is one slave such a good shot despite never using a gun before, would those two people really be brothers, and how is that geography working for you?), yet the show is one that everyone should watc
...more
Erin
Dec 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Althea Ann
This one was important to me, as a child.
Beyond presenting historical facts, I felt that it really let me understand the true horror of the slave trade.
Josiah
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
"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
Handan
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plot
Jessie Bollier lives in New Orleans with his mother and sickly sister in 1840 and earns pennies playing his pipe on the docks to amuse sailors. While walking home one evening, he is ambushed and kidnapped, taken through the swamplands and aboard a ship, The Moonlight. Aboard ship he learns the vessel is bound for the coast of Africa then to Cuba; The Moonlight is a slave ship. For the first half of his journey, Jessie adjusts to living as a captive working as the lowest member of the crew. H
...more
Janelle
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, newbery
This won the Newbery Medal in 1974 and is by far the heaviest novel I've read in my still-in-progress exploration of 1970s Newbery winners.

The protagonist is Jessie, a white boy who is kidnapped from his home in 1840s New Orleans to be part of the crew on a slave ship. He is taken because he can play the fife, and someone is needed to provide music for the slaves to dance to during their journey (to keep up their health and reduce the appalling death rate). It takes Jessie a while to realize the
...more
Phil Jensen
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jack. S
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Darla
More mature topic, but a tale that should be told! This one flows along following the life of Jesse Boller a young boy of 13 who is kidnapped to play his fife on a slave ship.
Squire Whitney
The Slave Dancer was one of my three or four favorite books as a middle schooler, so I decided to give it another reading as an adult. On the whole—even while I spotted some flaws that were at times hard for me to get past—I can fully understand why I loved the book so much as a 13-year-old. The story is captivating, the historical material is illuminating, and the narrative manages to draw up palpable emotion in the reader.

The Slave Dancer is the story of a 13-year-old white boy who is kidnappe
...more
Juli Anna
Goodness, this one was tough to get through. Really, I feel like it should be in the YA section; this is a pretty no-holds-barred account of the slave trade, complete with all the senseless violence, humiliation, cruelty, and nastiness that entails. It certainly would have been near impossible for me to get through until I was twelve or so.

Despite this, however, there's a lot of value here. For one, very few children's books go into such brutal detail about the slave trade. This book goes beyond
...more
Myth Liberated
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
کتاب داستانش خیلی آهسته پیش میره و یه جوری برای امثال من حدس زدن آخرش امکان پذیره ولی جالب بود و جزو اون دست از نویسندگانی بود (البته اگه ترجمه رو هم بهش اضافه کنیم)خیلی جالب حس وحال داستان رو به آدم منتقل میکنه و به نظر خودت هم تو داستان هستی
Karen
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom
Listening to the audio in the car...krb 7/7/17

Heart wrenching audio that is a must read/listen to for all teenagers. You really feel the emotions and circumstances of these people in the story....krb 7/17/17
Tze Min
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a kid once, a few years back, and I remember I hadn't liked it. I had found the writing to be dry and boring, and I couldn't understand much of what was happening, yet somehow it was particularly memorable. Thus, I decided to pick it up again.

It was a much better experience this time round. The author clearly did her research, and put in effort in to give us a glimpse of the horrors of slave trade through the eyes of Jessie. The writing was good, and it set the atmosphere for the
...more
Jill
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Annette
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
This has got to be the most depressing book I have ever read. I had to slog through an incredible amount of graphic violence and senseless brutality before the main character encountered even a scrap of kindness. The author doesn't candy coat life on a slave ship in the least. She doesn't spare her readers any details of what life was like for the crew or the slaves. I don't know why this book won the Newbery, it isn't even appropriate for children. I could see how maybe a high school history te ...more
Jill
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Megalion
A novel written decades ago by an author I've not heard of til now but apparently she was very talented.

I have to agree. She wanted to write about the actual transporting of the slaves back in the slave trading days from Africa to the Caribbean and US. Using a kidnapped boy as the protagonist gave her a good angle to try and capture the horrors of that time.

He was kidnapped for his fife playing abilities... because once the slaves are on board, they bring them up periodically to "dance". To keep
...more
Heather
1974 Newbery Medal Winner

A fife-playing boy living in 1840 New Orleans, Jesse Bollier, is kidnapped by slavers and brought aboard their ship The Moonlight, where he is forced to play when the slaves are brought on deck for their "exercise."

Jesse witnesses the full horror of a slave ship in the form of the callousness of most of the crew, the conditions in which the slaves had to live, and the mercilessness of the profitable system of the slave trade, which continued to prosper even after some go
...more
Bill
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shanghaied to play his fife to make slaves dance aboard a slaver, 13 year old Jesse Bollier learns first hand the horrors of the slave trade – the merciless packing in of these human beings below deck; the little food and water; the killing of the sick captured Africans – but befriends a boy his age.

Though they cannot understand one another’s language, they form a bond especially when the slave ship founders in a storm and only Jesse and his new friend, Ras, escape.

This is a book for all ages, r
...more
Lauren Ethington
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Slave Dancer, by Paula Fox, Jessie Bollier was captured to play his fife on a slaving vessel in the 1800’s. Towards the end of the voyage the ship vessel, “Moonlight”, enters a storm and sinks. Only Jessie and a slave boy survives. Jessie helps the slave achieve freedom, and then returns home to New Orleans.
To begin with, the story takes place mainly on a slaving ship headed en route to Africa. The ship itself was in rough shape, which can contribute to the mood of the text because the s
...more
Nolan Kim
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox is a story about a young boy named Jessie Bollier who earns pennies by playing his fife at the docks on New Orleans. However, one day, he is kidnapped and forced onto a slave ship, where he is forced to travel to Africa and pick up slaves to take back to America. On the way back, he is forced to play his fife so that the imprisoned slaves can dance and keep their muscles strong. Jessie is extremely disgusted by the way that the slaves are treated, and how he is trea ...more
Gavin
May 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book Report
By Gavin Anderson

I read The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. The author was born on April 22, 1923. In 1978 she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The genre is of this book is Historical Fiction. The sub-genre is slavery. The narrator is the main character Jessie Bollier. The point of view is 1st person. I know because we know what Jessie is thinking and he says for example “I hate Stout”. This affects the story by giving a lot less information making the story a lot more mystery about
...more
Herman Padilla
Follows a personal narrative of a young man kidnapped and taken on slave ship as it travels to Africa picks up slaves and sails to Cuba the boy is to play his flute as a means to keep the slaves healthy by forcing them to dance on deck. It was a fairly compelling story not sure if I understood the crew interaction all that well, the ear bitting incident or when the egg was stolen just seems a bit odd and disconnected didn't illuminate the strangeness just made it seem weird nightmarish trip whic ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • ...And Now Miguel
  • Dobry
  • Tales From Silver Lands
  • The Dark Frigate
  • Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon
  • Waterless Mountain
  • Shadow Of A Bull
  • Daniel Boone
  • The White Stag
  • Roller Skates
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children
  • Miss Hickory
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
  • Secret of the Andes
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
  • Rifles for Watie
43740
Paula Fox was 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 wi
...more
More about Paula Fox...
“You'll see some bad things, but if you didn't see them, they'd still be happening.” 31 likes
“You’ll see some bad things, but if you didn’t see them, they’d still be happening so you might as well.” 0 likes
More quotes…