Title: I Want to Be Free
Author: Joseph Slate
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Concepts: human resources, slavery
Review: A young man runs away from the bonds of slavery and the hated plantation owner. The danger of his escape is compounded by the pain of the heavy iron ring that remains locked around his leg. Despite the risk of being captured and his intense desire to seek freedom, the young man still has the courage to rescue another escaped slave, a small child who was orphaned and lost in the woods. How this child ultimately brings love and freedom into the young man’s life is a source of inspiration and wonder.
This powerful story, told in sparse yet bold verse, has its underpinnings in the literature of Buddha and is set to the time of slavery in the American South. Acclaimed illustrator E. B. Lewis is very effective in communicating all the emotions associated with the drudgery of slavery, the dangers of escape, and the complex emotions of a new relationship between a young man and the child he rescues. This book makes an excellent choice for parents and teachers who are seeking realistic yet age-appropriate materials to teach younger children about the institution of slavery in American history.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children