Once on this River by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

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Synopsis

It is 1760. Monday de Groot and her mother, Lesley, a midwife, sail from their home in Madagascar to New York, to testify on behalf of Lesley's brother Frederick, who has been falsely imprisoned and taken as a slave. Because Lesley has the only papers to prove that Frederick is in fact a free black man, she risks the journey despite its danger for Monday--the potential discovery of the secret of her own birth. While in New York, Monday meets a brother she never knew she had and learns the truth of her heritage.  She is not a free African child, as she's always believed, but a child of slaves.  The effects of this revelation are astonishing, as Monday comes to grips with her identity and meets her birth mother. Based on historical documents from the 1800s, this compelling story and its remarkable characters will live on in the readers' memory long after the book has been closed.  
 

About Sharon Dennis Wyeth

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Sharon Dennis Wyeth is the author of several books for young readers, including Daughter McGuire and Always My Dad. Illustrator Chris K. Soentpiet is the recipient of several awards, including the International Reading Award for More Than Anything Else and the gold medal for the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show for Peacebound Trains.
 
Published December 29, 1997 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 150 pages
Genres: Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Once on this River

Kirkus Reviews

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Further, the book's happy ending is not earned, with dramatic moments occurring offstage (e.g., the freeing of Frederick, and the escape of Monday's slave brother with his freeborn sweetheart).

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Publishers Weekly

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Despite ""occasionally ponderous execution,"" said PW, this tale about an African girl's voyage to New York in 1760 to free her illegally enslaved uncle is ""otherwise rewarding."" Ages 10-13.

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Publishers Weekly

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Monday and her mother, citizens of Madagascar, have set out for New York City to rescue Monday's uncle, who has been illegally enslaved.

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