A Voice of Her Own by Kathryn Lasky
The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet

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Synopsis

The moving story of the first African American woman poet is compellingly told by Kathryn Lasky and brought to life with powerful illustrations by Paul Lee.

"We’ll call her Phillis."

In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to America, she’d had everything taken from her - her family, her name, and her language.

But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking with unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley became a poet and ultimately had a book of verse published, establishing herself as the first African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own.
 

About Kathryn Lasky

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Kathryn Lasky is the author of many books for children, including SUGARING TIME, a Newbery Honor Book; SHOW AND TELL BUNNIES and SCIENCE FAIR BUNNIES; and VISION OF BEAUTY: THE STORY OF SARAH BREEDLOVE WALKER. Kathryn Lasky says she was drawn to Phillis Wheatley's story because she was fascinated by the relationship between the writer's voice, her identity as a slave, and freedom. Paul Lee is a painter and freelance illustrator. He has illustrated the acclaimed AMISTAD RISING by Veronica Chambers, and THE GOOD LUCK CAT by Joy Harjo. While working on A VOICE OF HER OWN, Paul Lee had to do considerable research to make sure the illustrations were historically accurate - research that even entailed renting costumes from a local opera house.
 
Published January 1, 2003 by Candlewick. 40 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Children's Books, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Voice of Her Own

Kirkus Reviews

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Lasky (Porkenstein, 2002, etc.) opens the story in the hold of the slaver Phillis and then follows Wheatley’s life and career as she is purchased by the Wheatleys of Boston, learns to speak, read, and write English, and begins to write and then publish her own poems.

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Publishers Weekly

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PW called this picture-book biography of the first published African-American woman poet a "lyrical portrait.

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Publishers Weekly

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Lasky (Sugaring Time) opens her lyrical portrait of Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman poet, in 1761;

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Examiner

Phillis's own poetry becomes published when she is only fourteen, and her excited mistress takes Phillis into some of Boston's finest homes to share her gift of poetry.

Feb 09 2011 | Read Full Review of A Voice of Her Own: The Story...

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