Title: A Voice of Her Own
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Series: Candlewick Biographies
Major Themes: Phillis Wheatley, African Americans, Poetry, American Revolution
Synopsis: The story of a famous Black poetess from the American Revolution is told in story and beautiful artwork.
As we study American history, we have nearly reached the Revolutionary War. One person our guide suggested reading about was Phillis Wheatley. I had never heard of her, but was able to find a book about her on the online library we’ve been using, so we enjoyed A Voice of Her Own, a gorgeous picture book.
As a very young girl, Phillis was kidnapped in Africa and taken to Boston, where she was sold as a slave. The family who bought her treated her as a daughter. Because she learned English so quickly, and seemed so intelligent, they decided to teach her how to read and write—and soon she knew a lot more than many white girls in the city!
Phillis was quite interested in the talk of freedom in the city. She listened to all the talk swirling around her, and soon began writing poetry about it. After the Boston Massacre, she wrote a poem about that event. After a few years, she had written enough poems that her owners wanted to publish them in a book! No one could believe that a Negro had written them, however, and a committee had to deliberate over them before they would allow them to be printed.
This book was quite interesting in many ways. It tells a little-known story from American history. It also discusses the issue of freedom from a slave’s perspective, and it shows the development of a poetess. The text is quite interesting, and the pictures are beautiful, detailed full-color paintings.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12