Becoming an actor is one good way to irritate your family, and in the early 1800s, Ira's father would really rather he become a minister. Ira loves the stage, however, and is especially fond of Shakespeare. Since he is free, he is able to work for the African Grove theater in New York, but has a close call with slave traders who want to buy him. Frustrated by his limited possibilities, and not wanting to go to ministry college, Ira goes to London. There, he manages to find roles after working very hard to perfect his craft, and he was also able to share the story of the plight of African Americans in the US.
This is a great biography about a very renowned actor who is hardly known today. Armnad does a great job at constructing believable scenes from his life as they most likely happened. The illustrations by Cooper are dramatic, and yet tinged with a sepia-toned sadness. Like many picture book biographies, this is really for older children, due to the length and challenging text, but would be great to share with younger classes as well.
I am not surprised that Lee & Low Books were able to herald an African American "celebrity figure" from history in a respectful and informative way!