Saturday, May 3, 2008

Informational Books: A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet

Lasky, Katheryn. 2003. A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet. Illus. by Paul Lee. Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763602523.

In her picture-book biography, Lasky presents the readers the accessible story of the first African American poet, Phillis Wheatley. As a child, Phillis was kidnapped from her home in Africa and was brought to the American colonies to be sold. She was bought by the Wheatley family to serve as a servant and companion to Mrs. Susannah Wheatley, who named the little girl after the slave ship that she was brought on and who allowed Phillis to be educated. By the age of twelve Phillis was writing poetry, and by the age of seventeen she was famous for writing a poem to honor the Reverend George Whitefield. Presented in miniature chapters that serve as vignettes, the portrait covers the important moments of Phillis’ life and accomplishments that were surrounded by the major events of America’s pre-Revolutionary War history and concludes with an brief epilogue of Phillis dismal adult years and her early death. Lasky includes excerpts of Phillis’ poems and the draws upon the poems for insight into the feelings of this young woman. Lee’s acrylic full-spread illustrations enhance the over all books and accurately depicts the individuals and places relevant to the history. Though, Lasky doesn’t make mention of the Susannah Wheatley’s son Nathaniel who served as Phillis’ tutor and does not include a bibliography, this is a book that can be used as jumping off point to continue learning about this young poet who lived during the pivotal moment in America’s history and who is the founder of African American literature.

*Learn more about that amazing poet with:
– Phillis Wheatley: Young Revolutionary Poet by Kathryn Kilby Borland, Helen Ross Speicher and Illus. by Cathy Morrison
– Phillis Wheatley: Slave and Poet by Robin S. Doak
– Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley by Ann Rinaldi
– Revolutionary Poet: A Story About Phillis Wheatley by Maryann N. Weidt and Illus. by Mary O’Keefe Young
*Read Phillis Wheatley’s poems and letters: Phillis Wheatley: Complete Writings

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