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Paulsen, Gary(1993)
Young Adult

Sarny lives on the Waller plantation. One day a slave named Nightjohn comes to the plantation with Mr. Waller. In exchange for a lip of tobacco, Nightjohn begins teaching Sarny how to write letters. After a while, it is revealed that he was free at one time, but returned to the South to teach slaves to read and write. But slaves caught reading and writing are punished severely. So when Mr. Waller catches Sarny writing, he looks for someone to blame. The punishment he inflicts has a permanent result. This book is filled with meaningful dialogue and characters. Written from Sarny's point of view, it powerfully portrays injustice, wonderment of the written language, and a spirit of hope.

Reviewed by Jeanenne R., Steele Creek Branch

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Reader's comments about this book

It was a great book!
-Sam, New York

Gary Paulsen has written a wonderful story about the brutal history of slavery. I have enjoyed the novel very much.
-koula, Queensland

It was so action packed.
-Des, KY

I had to read this book in 5th grade an i didn't understand it as well, but now I read it in the 9th and I am well informed about what happen back then. This was a wonderful book.
-Shaishai, Mobile, Alabama

This book was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot.
-Lila, Milwaukee, WI

I had really enjoyed this book because it told of how this slave girl met a new slave night John and escaped seeing how she will live a better life as a free person not as a slave.
-Brandon, Brooklyn, NY

This book is a great read, with characters you will love and hate. I got a sense of what it was really like back then. I actually felt like I was a slave. Great job, Gary Paulsen.
-Danielle, London, Kentucky

A wonderful book.
-Narhonda, Texas

This is a wonderful story of courage and the power of knowledge. This book shows that no matter what you lose or gain in life, true knowledge can never be taken away.
-Evelynette, Detroit, MI

I had to read this book in 7th grade. I absolutely loved it. Itís an amazing story and very heart touching. One of my favorites!
-Amy, CA

I love this book!
-Breanna, Mooresville, IN

I read this book this year in 7th grade! It was amazing! I absolutely loved it! I felt like I was in that time period with Sarney!
-Meagan, Brandenburg, Kentucky

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