cover image Samuel's Choice

Samuel's Choice

Richard Berleth. Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-7218-4

Fact and fiction are woven together seamlessly to create this richly textured story of a 14-year-old black slave during the early days of the American Revolution. Samuel works from dawn to dark in the Brooklyn flour mill owned by the stingy, strict Isaac van Ditmas. When ferrying his master's wife and daughter to Staten Island, Samuel gazes at the soaring seagulls and wonders what it would be like to be free. A very effective parallel emerges as Samuel and van Ditmas's other slaves hear the sounds of drums, fifes and cannons driftng across the water from Manhattan, signaling the colonists' determination to win their freedom from England. Samuel seizes an opportunity to come to their aid, and performs a heroic act that enables General Washington's weary troops to escape from the victorious British after the Battle of Long Island. Samuel's first-person narrative is at once affecting and informative, making this a history lesson that readers will absorb with their hearts as well as their minds. Filled with the strife of wartime, Watling's dramatic paintings enhance the story's power. Ages 8-11. (Nov.)