Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad

Monica Edinger, Author, Robert Byrd, Illustrator
Monica Edinger, illus. by Robert Byrd. Candlewick, $17.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5038-4
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 10/08/2013
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-7636-7647-6
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In her first book for children, Edinger fuses fact and fiction, despair and hope in the story of a nine-year-old girl taken from her Sierra Leona homeland. After being sold to slave traders, Margru is banished to the “dark and airless” hold of a ship bound for Cuba, represented by a stark, all-black spread: “Seven weeks of chains and shackles. Seven weeks of sobs and cries.” In Havana, a white man buys Margru and three other children, and they are forced onto the Amistad. Margru provides an immediate account of the infamous slave mutiny onboard and the perpetrators’ imprisonment and trials in Connecticut; the Africans are eventually freed and sent home, where Margru later becomes a teacher. Margru’s descriptions of the strangeness of life in America and her homesickness for Sierra Leona are incisive and heartbreaking. Meticulously incorporated throughout the book’s design, along with reproductions of archival materials, Byrd’s (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) folk art–style ink-and-watercolor illustrations vividly capture the landscapes and people of West Africa, Cuba, and the U.S. Ages 10–up. Author’s agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)
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