A fine and harrowing true story behind an American classic.

PASSENGER ON THE PEARL

THE TRUE STORY OF EMILY EDMONSON'S FLIGHT FROM SLAVERY

In her first work of nonfiction for young readers (Sylvia & Aki, 2011), Conkling presents the true story of Emily Edmonson and her five siblings who escaped from slavery only to be caught and sent further south.

Amelia Culver never wanted to marry, knowing marriage meant inevitable heartbreak when children were born into slavery and sold in the slave markets. But she married Paul Edmonson anyway, and sure enough, her children, upon reaching age 12 or 13, were taken and hired out in Washington, D.C. Her 13-year-old daughter Emily and Emily’s siblings shared their mother’s dream of freedom, and in 1848, they took part in what became the largest slave escape attempt in American history. Down the Potomac River they fled on the Pearl, and by the time they neared the Chesapeake Bay, they were captured and sold South, where Emily and her sister Mary were in danger of being sold into the sex trade. Eventually, they were returned to Virginia and ransomed with help from the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, whose sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, modeled characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Emily and Mary Edmonson. Clearly written, well-documented, and chock full of maps, sidebars, and reproductions of photographs and engravings, the fascinating volume covers a lot of history in a short space. Conkling uses the tools of a novelist to immerse readers in Emily’s experiences.

A fine and harrowing true story behind an American classic. (timeline, family tree, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61620-196-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading.

LOCKED IN ICE

NANSEN'S DARING QUEST FOR THE NORTH POLE

A vivid (sometimes all too much so) account of Norwegian scientist, explorer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen’s 1893-1896 try for the North Pole.

Though the Nansen expedition was possibly even more meticulously planned than Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic venture, both had similar results—neither reached their goals, but both endured weary months of such wild mischances that it seems miraculous that neither lost a man. Lourie (Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush, 2017, etc.) draws generously from Nansen’s detailed records to describe the special gear and provisions he, in many cases, invented or improvised (“meat-chocolate,” yum, giving way in later, more desperate, times to “cold boiled bear and a few ounces of bread”), to introduce his human and canine crews (the latter eventually becoming their own food supply), and to retrace the trek’s route. The highly informative appendix includes a wealth of information, including conversations with modern polar explorers that present a picture of what being out on the arctic ice is like…highlighted by guidelines for pooping outdoors in subzero temperatures. Though the many sepia-toned maps and photographs are too often dim and foggy, the images add both flavor and immediacy to the narrative. Only glancing mention is made of all Nansen learned from the Inuit residents who aided him.

A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading. (author’s note, aftermatter, appendix, sources, bibliography and resources, websites, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13764-7

Page Count: 337

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

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An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer.

SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF FIGHTING SHIRLEY CHISHOLM

A comprehensive biography of Shirley Chisholm’s political career.

Born in the U.S. to Bajan immigrants in 1924, “Fighting Shirley Chisholm” was raised and educated in both Barbados and the United States. As a teacher and administrator, she labored to improve the welfare of children in New York and championed legislation that supported low-income families and disadvantaged groups all over the country. Dedicated and unrelenting in her passion to serve “the workaday folk who make up most of the nation,” Chisholm worked her way up to becoming a congresswoman. The book describes how she was forced to battle racism and sexism en route to becoming the first Black person to seek a major party’s nomination for president of the United States. Readers will learn how Chisholm navigated an educational and political system bent on keeping women like her disempowered. The strength of Bolden’s skill as a researcher is evident; chapter by chapter, she provides succinct but critical context around the motivations and movements of Chisholm’s political career. A foreword by Stacey Abrams helps establish that Chisholm’s legacy is one of political innovation as someone who forged a path for others to follow. This informative book has an engaging narrative structure. The use of repetition and inclusion of memorable pearls of wisdom attributed to Chisholm add a poetic tone.

An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer. (maps, author's note, bibliography, photos) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4263-7236-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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