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The moving story of how the first published African-American female poet regained what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own.
"We’ll call her Phillis."
In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to America, she’d had everything taken from her - her family, her name, and her language.
But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking with unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley became a poet and ultimately had a book of verse published, establishing herself as the first African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own.
About the Author
Kathryn Lasky is the author of many books for children, including SUGARING TIME, a Newbery Honor Book; SHOW AND TELL BUNNIES and SCIENCE FAIR BUNNIES; and VISION OF BEAUTY: THE STORY OF SARAH BREEDLOVE WALKER. Kathryn Lasky says she was drawn to Phillis Wheatley’s story because she was fascinated by the relationship between the writer’s voice, her identity as a slave, and freedom.
Paul Lee is a painter and freelance illustrator. He has illustrated the acclaimed AMISTAD RISING by Veronica Chambers, and THE GOOD LUCK CAT by Joy Harjo. While working on A VOICE OF HER OWN, Paul Lee had to do considerable research to make sure the illustrations were historically accurate - research that even entailed renting costumes from a local opera house.
Lasky's lyrical text combines perfectly with Paul Lee's illustrations to convey Wheatly's remarkable spirit, as well as the tumultuous times in which she lived.
—Washington Post Book World
Lasky shows how Wheatley's struggle for personal identity and respect paralleled the prevailing political talk of freedom and revolution. Lee's carefully researched paintings give a vivid picture of colonial Boston through the eyes of an extraordinary woman.
—San Francisco Chronicle
In this moving picture book, biographer Kathryn Lasky traces important themes in Phillis's poetry while noting the terrible way slavery rendered so many voiceless.
Lasky shows not only the facts of Wheatley's life but also the pain of being an accomplished black woman in a segregated world.