If You Please, President Lincoln!

Harriette Gillem Robinet, Author Atheneum Books $16 (160p) ISBN 978-0-689-31969-3
Freedom is not a purely political state, as is amply demonstrated in this powerful novel. Moses, an enslaved youth on Maryland's Eastern Shore, is not emancipated by Lincoln's proclamation in 1863-because he lives in Union territory. Learning that he is to be sold, he escapes and fends briefly for himself in Washington, D.C. There he begins to grow out of the dependent patterns of childhood and to reject the self-serving preaching of his former owner, a priest: ``My mind knew right from wrong at last.'' But he is entrapped by an ill-planned scheme to export freed slaves-this development is based on a historical incident-and with 400 other African Americans he is shipped to a small, barren island off the coast of Haiti. As a leader of what proves to be a cohesive, hard-working group, he finally sheds his last psychological shackles. Back in the States, he begins to plan for a college education. And he begins to tell his story himself, in a slightly formal style and vocabulary that evoke the 19th century without slowing the reader. Robinet (Mississippi Chariot) combines desert-island drama with an insightful story of a mind gradually freeing itself. Ages 8-12. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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