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Posts tagged “Charles Dickens

All Different Kinds of Free

Reviewed by Brittney

Just the Facts: by Jessica McCann. 274 p. Published April 2011 by Bell Bridge Books. Advanced review copy provided in electronic format courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley.

Verdict: ★★★★

Who Cares? Adult / Historical Fiction

Short Bio: Jessica McCann weaves the untold story of Margaret Morgan and her family – a free black woman who, with her children, was abducted in Pennsylvania by a bounty hunter from Maryland – with the famous Supreme Court case that resulted from her kidnapping.  Prigg v Pennsylvania became a case which highlighted the growing tension between the Northern and Southern states about the issues of states rights regarding slavery.  This book focuses on Margaret’s story – the incredible injustice offered her and how she fought for her family and her freedom. 

Eyewitness Account: I cannot for the life of me remember this particular court case from either my high school history and government classes, nor my college constitutional law class – so the events of the case, the Supreme Court verdict, and Margaret’s fate all kept me turning the pages of this horrific, yet inspiring story.  Although it is at times a little difficult to keep track of the secondary characters, McCann brings Margaret to life in such a vivid way that I couldn’t help but relate to both the tragedies and triumphs she experienced.  The author’s note at the back makes it clear that the details of  Margaret’s story are sparse, so her personal account is mostly fictionalized.  Given that, it was obviously true to the times and more than plausible – McCann definitely did her research!  I highly recommend this story for anyone interested in the pre-Civil War era, abolition, and stories of individuals who fought for their families and freedom. 

Note: Although I’d rate the age-level of readability for this book at 5th/6th grade, the content is definitely NC-17.

Notable Quotes:

“Oh, I know the place probably don’t seem like much of anything to the average passerby, not that we get many of those way out here.  But our tiny home is so much more than its four ramshackle walls and lopsided roof would have you believe.  Inside, it’s big, full of love.  It’s a hospital where my babies can be born.  It’s a schoolhouse where my children can learn.  It’s a mansion where my husband and I can enjoy the riches of our life together.”

“Living my whole life in freedom in Mill Green and then in York, I often marveled at how there can be all different kinds of free.  And yet, after hearing news of Mrs. Ashmore’s recent kindness to you and after living here at the plantation, I suppose now I’ve learned there are all different kinds of bondage, too.”

Other Books Read by This Author: None.

What are other people saying? Write For Me, Reads4Pleasure, Uniflame Creates

Rating:

★★★★ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★★★ Writing Style

★★★★ Original Idea

★★★★★ Page Turner

Overall ★★★★

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The Cheshire Cheese Cat

Reviewed by Nick

Just the Facts: The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright. Barry Moser, illustrator. pp. 1-37 excerpt. To be published on Oct. 1, 2011. Peachtree Publishers; Atlanta. Accessed through http://www.netgalley.com.

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Who cares? : Children’s Literature/Elementary Chapterbook

Not so short bio:

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub has unarguably the best cheese in England. Perhaps that’s why it is such a popular hang out for writers and poets. It’s definitely the reason that so many mice have inhabited the attic. And no wonder the owner is looking for a new mouser!

Skilley is a tom cat living in the streets of London–but he’s no ordinary cat. Skilley has a secret that would make him the laughing stock of cats and mice alike. When Skilley hears that the Cheshire Cheese Pub in London is looking for a mouser, he quickly formulates a plan to get hired for the position.

Pip, a mouse that lives among the mouse colony within the Cheshire Cheese, hears the pub owner, Henry, talking about getting a cat. Pip understands human language because he learned it from his rescuer Nell, the pub owner’s daughter.  He quickly decides to convene the mouse council to find the wisest course of action, but on the way foolishly gets caught by the would-be mouser! Pip is scared for his life, but starting to get annoyed as the cat prolongs the inevitable, or what Pip thinks is the inevitable. Once in private, Pip finds out Skilley’s secret. Skilley does not like to eat mice! More surprisingly, Skilley loves CHEESE! and that’s why he has come to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Pip thinks quick on his feet and makes a deal with Skilley that they will provide him with the hard-to-obtain Cheshire Cheese if he will protect the mice from any true mouser.

Will Pip succeed in persuading the mice, especially Maldwyn, a victim of a cat mauling, that the new mouser is harmless? Is Skilley indeed harmless? Will Skilley’s rival Pinch let Skilley take the post of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese mouser so easily? What secrets is Maldwyn hiding? Will Skilley be able to make it “look” like he is a mouser while really eating the pubs cheese? Can Skilley trust the mice? Can the mice trust Skilley? And most importantly, will Charles find the perfect beginning to his book?

Eyewitness Account:

Deedy and Wright have composed a charming tale of a cat and mouse. But this tale is not the orthodox relationship that you’d expect from such eternal foes. The authors have an original plot scheme for their story and yet they have intertwined beloved traditional elements such as the writings of Charles Dickens and his character itself in the storyline. Even the setting of London and an old fashioned pub nicely offset the untraditional concept of a cheese-eating cat.

The first chapter is a little choppy, but after that the story takes off fluidly. I commend the authors for attempting to be artistic with the script at certain points in the book, but I think it is too distracting at times. Not exactly sure the intended age range, but in some places wording is unnecessarily dense.  The characters have great potential and so does the plot, but since it is only an excerpt, my rating for this book will be less than I would have liked.

 

Rating:

★★★☆☆ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★☆☆ Writing Style

★★★★★ Original Idea

★★★☆☆ Page Turner

Overall ★★★☆☆