Breaking Free

Louann Gaeddert, Author Atheneum Books $16 (144p) ISBN 978-0-689-31883-2
It is 1800 and Richard Baldwin's mother has just died. The 11-year-old has to move away from his home in Bennington, Vt., to live with his Uncle Lyman in rural New York State. Uncle Lyman (Uncle Ugly, to Richard), with his son Dan, has an incredible capacity for taunting, humiliating and bullying Richard, who is unused to the tough farm life. Richard, however, has resources of his own: he is empathetic with his uncle's slaves, gifted in school, talented at music and nurturing, by himself raising a piglet. After withstanding seemingly endless, often excruciating insensitivity from his uncle and cousin (Richard's pig, for example, meets an all-too-predictable end), Richard first helps his uncle's slaves escape to Canada, then flees to Schenectady (though the opportunity to go to school there in exchange for a job playing the school organ arrives as a bit of a deus ex machina ). On the whole, Gaeddert effectively makes Richard, himself fond of reading, a source of identification for readers of her book; as a result, they will feel his pain with him, as well as his joys. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Children's
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