Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Middle Grades Pick: Sailing To Freedom

Sailing to Freedom
By Martha Bennett Stiles
Henry Holt and Company
245 pages with glossary

Sailing To Freedom is Kentucky's Exhibit Choice for the 2012 National Book Fest.

The year is 1839 and slave ships still deliver human cargo to America’s shores.
Twelve year old Ray Ingle dreams of going to sea with his father. Father tells him he’s still too young and too short, and to appease him, he leaves behind Allie, a tiny capuchin monkey. Ray is appeased for a while, but when his mother falls ill, Ray must live with his greedy and spiteful Uncle Slye. Uncle Slye hates Allie and makes Ray feel terrible, so Ray jumps at the chance to board the Newburyport Beauty and sail with his nice Uncle Thad.

Uncle Thad says Ray can help Cook in the kitchen. Cook is almost as mean as Uncle Slye, but Allie manages to get better food. Soon, she’s stealing the kitchen blind, and Cook is having a fit! They run into trouble and bad weather; next, they have to face tough bounty hunters who are looking for runaway slaves. Uncle Thad has a secret, and every member of the crew keeps the secret safe. Cook used to be a slave, and now is hiding something, too. Cook needs Ray’s help each day, and as he depends on Ray, he comes to trust him.

Told from Ray’s point of view, the story comes alive. Allie the monkey adds comic relief and is a worthy sea-worthy sidekick. The glossary is helpful for readers not familiar with sailing terms.

Recommended grades 4-up. Students may need some background information about America and slave ships, Abolitionists, bounty hunters, and the Amistad.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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