Title: The Kidnapped Prince
Author: Olaudah Equiano
Major Themes: Sailing, Slavery
Synopsis: After gaining his freedom, a slave tells his life story.
Isn’t that a catchy title for a book—The Kidnapped Prince? It sounds like an adventure mystery, or something. The really good part, though, is that this book is a true story of a real person, told by himself.
As a young boy in Africa in 1755, Olaudah was kidnapped by African slave traders and sold away from home. After being bought and sold by a series of different people, he found himself on the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies. Over the next several years, he belonged to another series of owners, good and bad, in the West Indies, the colonies that would soon become the United States, and England. Eventually, he belonged to a kind master who promised that the young man would be allowed to buy his freedom if he saved enough money.
Olaudah, known as Gustavus Vasa, tells his story in quite an interesting way. I remember thoroughly enjoying this book the first time I read it aloud, four or five years ago, and when we read it again recently, it was just as engrossing. No one wanted to miss out. Even if you’re not interested in slavery, this man’s story will catch your attention.
I was quite interested in Gustavus’s spiritual life. He decided at one stage that he should be baptized, so he was. He seemed to be a moral, honest person, and believed in trusting people and doing good to them. On page 120, he swore, but then immediately was sorry for it. When the boat he was on ran into trouble soon after that, he believed it was a consequence of his swearing and did all he could to save his fellow shipmates, even though many of them wouldn’t work to save themselves. Frequently, people were cruel to him, but he did not try to get back at them.
WARNING: See last paragraph.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15