Paulsen, Gary. 1993. Nightjohn. NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0385308388.
Twelve-year-old Sarny, a slave on the Waller plantation, knew what happed to slaves if they were overheard calling their owner “pig slop,” or were caught praying aloud, and if they attempted to runaway. If slaves were to know how to read and write, according to her mammy, they would be whipped till their skin hung like rags or they would lose their thumbs. But when Nightjohn, a new slave who had successfully escaped to freedom but returned to educator others, arrives, she agrees to exchange tobacco leaves for learning letters and words. In her newfound ability to read and write, however, Sarny is caught and as result her loved ones are punished. Based on true happenings and as told through the compelling dialect narrative of a young girl, Paulsen’s powerful and authentic book brings the harsh and grim reality of the treatment of slaves during the America’s pre-Civil War past and the story of how the strength of the human spirit and the power of literacy can never be crushed.
*To find out what happens to Sarny read Paulsen’s sequel: Sarny: A Life Remembered.
*Read more historical fictions like The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox,