Title: A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: Paul Lee
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: slavery, child schooling and work, discrimination, racial inequality
Review: Born in Africa and sold into slavery at the age of seven, Phillis Wheatley worked as a servant for a family in Boston who believed, unlike most white people at the time, that slaves were fully capable of learning to read, write, and master the arts. Within just a few years Phillis was fully literate in English and had moved on to math, geography, and the classics. Her greatest love and talent lay in poetry, and as an adolescent Phillis was already reciting verses in society circles and publishing her own work. In the face of extreme discrimination, Phillis grew up to become the first African American published poet and the first African American woman to publish her writing.
Rich illustrations and clear text bring Phillis Wheatley’s story to life and help to make her biographical account accessible to younger readers. The narrative also touches on some of the economic aspects of slavery and reasons why whites were unwilling to empower slaves with educations, making the book a valuable resource for educating children about the history of slavery and the importance of social justice.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children