Etched in Clay by Andrea Cheng
The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet

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Sometime before 1818, an enslaved young man named Dave was brought to Edgefield, in the
heart of South Carolina’s pottery-producing area. From the time he was first taught to turn a
potter’s wheel, Dave showed exceptional natural talent. Soon he was creating pieces of great
beauty and often massive size. He also learned to read and write, even though South Carolina
had laws prohibiting slave literacy. And then Dave did something even more daring: he began to
sign his jars and carve many of them with sayings and short poems that reflected his daily life
and experiences. With these courageous acts, Dave quietly protested the brutality of slavery and
asserted his humanity.

Here is an evocative portrait of Dave as memorable as one of his jars. Through simple yet
powerful poetry, including some of Dave’s inscriptions, we learn his extraordinary story of
perseverance, creative inspiration, and hope. Today Dave’s legacy lives on in the artistry of his
pottery, in his intriguing words, and as a reminder of the dignity and resilience of the human

About Andrea Cheng

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ANDREA CHENG is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her works range from picture books to young adult novels, and her stories often draw on the experiences of her Hungarian relatives or her husband's Chinese family. For this book, however, Cheng was inspired by Dave's heroism, courage, and creative struggle. When not writing books, Cheng teaches English as a Second Language at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Cheng and her husband have three grown children. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Published October 7, 2013 by Lee & Low Books. 171 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Children's Books, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Says Dave: “I am not afraid / to write on a jar / and fire it hot / so my word / can never be erased.” Combining visual art with poetry as Dave did, Cheng includes her own striking woodcuts, illustrating both Dave’s experiences and his artistry.

Dec 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Etched in Clay: The Life of D...

The Horn Book

This inspirational historical fiction novel in verse portrays one man’s capacity to live a creative life within the confines of slavery, a man who (in Cheng’s words) hoped that “someday the world will read / my word etched in clay / on the side of this jar / and know about the shackles / around o...

Feb 20 2013 | Read Full Review of Etched in Clay: The Life of D...

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