Monday, October 26, 2015
Freedom's Price ~ Blog Tour
by Michaela MacColl & Rosemary Nichols
288 pages; ages 9-12
Calkins Creek, 2015
Freedom's Price is the second book in the Hidden Histories series, and it's every bit as good as the first. In this one, authors Michaela MaColl and Rosemary Nichols dive into the history of the Dred Scott decision and pre-Civil War America. It's a coming-of-age story about a young girl, and maybe a young nation as well.
Eleven-year-old Eliza Scott hates doing laundry. She wants more out of her life than to lug smelly shirts to the river's edge and scrub them... day after day after day. She's tired of being in limbo - not a slave, but not quite free. And she's really tired of living in the town jail wile waiting for the court to decide her family's status.
Her father, Dred, has sued for freedom, and until the court decides their fate, he and his family live in a gray zone. As long as they remain on this side of the river, in this town - they are safe... unless they're kidnapped and sold into slavery. But there are unscrupulous people... and Eliza learns that "almost free" isn't "free", and freedom is no guarantee that one will be accorded respect and civility.
What I like about this book are the questions it raises about race, society, and whether our society has progressed from those pre-Civil War times. I like the way the authors worked in the cholera epidemic and the St. Louis Great Fire of 1849. I also love that there is back matter about the Dred Scott decision. While the book is fictional, the story is true: Dred Scott did sue for freedom and won. That decision was overturned by the US Supreme Court - a decision that not only lit the fuse for the Civil War, but provided the underpinnings of the 14th Amendment: that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens. You can read more about Dred Scott here and here.
This book - this series - is a great way to sneak in history for kids who love stories but "hate" history. It's also a great way to slake the thirst of kids who love history but think they don't like fiction. If I had stars to give out, I would.
Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by publisher.