Amina Luqman-Dawson

Book - 2022

After fleeing the plantation where they were enslaved, siblings Ada and Homer discover the secret community of Freewater, and work with freeborn Sanzi to protect their new home from the encroaching dangers of the outside world.

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jFICTION/Luqman-Dawson, Amina
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Bookmobile Children's jFICTION/Luqman-Dawson, Amina Due Oct 26, 2023
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James Patterson presents.
Children's stories
Historical fiction
Juvenile works
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2022.
First edition
Physical Description
viii, 403 pages ; 21 cm
Ages 8-12.
Grades: 3-7.
Reading L: 4.6
Newbery Medal, 2023.
Coretta Scott King Author Award, 2023.
Horn Book Fanfare List, 2023.
Main Author
Amina Luqman-Dawson (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Fleeing enslavement at Southland Plantation, 12-year-old Homer and his little sister, Ada, get separated from their mother but keep moving until they arrive at a wild, unknown area. Struggling forward and fearing capture, they are helped by a man who literally swings to their rescue from the trees! Suleman helps them make their way to a hidden community of formerly enslaved people and their freeborn children. The newcomers are in awe of how this hidden enclave--Freewater---exists, but they also fear for their new home and friends after overhearing the plantation overseer Stokes and his minions planning to set the swamp ablaze to flush them out. Back at the plantation, their recaptured mother and others want to join the Freewater community, and a perfect plan comes together. Debut author Luqman-Dawson brings to life a lesser-known piece of Black history: the role of swamplands as safe areas for those making their way to freedom. She has imagined how people not only would survive but thrive in such places. Skillfully drawing memorable characters and moving them toward an exciting, heartfelt resolution, Luqman-Dawson does not shy away from the realities of slavery. This lyrical story of hope, strength, and ingenuity will be gobbled up by young history buffs and adventure lovers. Direct your Christopher Paul Curtis and Avi fans this way.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Based on the real-life Great Dismal Swamp, where enslaved people sought refuge from plantation life, Luqman-Dawson's engrossing historical fiction novel follows enslaved Black siblings 12-year-old Homer and seven-year-old Ada after their escape from Southerland Plantation and its white overseer. An encounter with plantation raider Suleman results in the children being taken to swamp haven Freewater, a lush forest peopled with individuals who escaped slavery and who keep watch for possible invaders. Making her children's debut, Luqman-Dawson populates the town with richly rendered characters, including Freewater-born Juna, who has never seen a white person, and her sister Sanzi, a tough but unseasoned fighter who looks up to Suleman and wants to do her part to help the people of Freewater. When the town's inhabitants undertake a liberation effort, the characters must build courage and overcome their fears in this vividly written, wholly accessible novel of enslavement and resistance. Back matter includes an author's note describing the true history behind Freewater. Ages 8--12. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Jr. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Horn Book Review

Many accounts of the Underground Railroad mention that enslaved Blacks would stick close to swamps as they made their way North, as the topography proved problematic for slave catchers. A lesser-known fact is that from the 1700s through the Civil War, hundreds of African Americans remained in the swamp and established thriving communities. One such area, the Great Dismal Swamp, serves as the inspiration for Luqman-Dawson's engrossing, multi-perspective debut novel. Twelve-year-old Homer is on the run with his seven-year-old sister, their mother having turned back to save his friend, Anna. Homer has no idea how to survive in the swamp; the answer arrives in Suleman, a Black man with knowledge of both the swamp and the surrounding plantations. Suleman leads them to Freewater, an established community with a whole generation of children who have only known freedom. Homer makes the hard choice to go back to his old plantation (accompanied by his new friends) to free his mother, but she and Anna have their own plans for freedom, supported by an unexpected source: Nora, the youngest daughter of the plantation owner. When they all converge on the night of a wedding, sacrifices from each of them bring the story to an explosive and cathartic conclusion. Every chapter begins with a character's name and records their journey, successfully developing a multidimensional cast. The author's note contains a brief history of these communities formed by both Indigenous and self-emancipated Black people. Eboni Njoku May/June 2022 p.149(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Two youngsters escaping slavery find refuge. Twelve-year-old Homer and his little sister, Ada, become separated from their mother as they attempt to flee enslavement on the Southerland plantation. They are rescued by Suleman, who takes them deep into the Great Dismal Swamp, where they join Freewater, a community of people who successfully fled from slavery and children who were born there. They work together to remain free, support one another, and remember the history of their founding. Suleman is one of the men who patrols the swamp, watching for any who would seek to reenslave them. He and others raid neighboring plantations for supplies. Freeborn Sanzi, 12, is determined to be a hero like Suleman--even if it gets her into trouble--and when her efforts go badly wrong, it places their settlement in danger. Meanwhile, back at Southerland, Homer's mother has been caught and severely whipped. This does not keep Homer's friend Anna from plotting her own escape while Homer seeks a way to rescue his mother. Set in a fictional community but based on real stories of those who fled slavery and lived secretly in Southern swamps, this is detailed and well-researched historical fiction. The characters are varied, complex, and fully realized. Descriptions of the setting are so vivid that it becomes a key aspect of the narrative. The page-turning action will engage readers as the story reaches a satisfying conclusion. An exceptional addition to the resistance stories of enslaved people. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.