Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad

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Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
10+
Release Date
October 08, 2013
ISBN
978-0763650384
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Inspired by a true account, here is the compelling story of a child who arrives in America on the slave ship Amistad —and eventually makes her way home to Africa.

When a drought hits her homeland in Sierra Leone, nine-year-old Magulu is sold as a pawn by her father in exchange for rice. But before she can work off her debt, an unthinkable chain of events unfolds: a capture by slave traders; weeks in a dark and airless hold; a landing in Cuba, where she and three other children are sold and taken aboard the Amistad; a mutiny aboard ship; a trial in New Haven that eventually goes all the way to the Supreme Court and is argued in the Africans’ favor by John Quincy Adams. Narrated in a remarkable first-person voice, this fictionalized book of memories of a real-life figure retells history through the eyes of a child — from seeing mirrors for the first time and struggling with laughably complicated clothing to longing for family and a home she never forgets. Lush, full-color illustrations by Robert Byrd, plus archival photographs and documents, bring an extraordinary journey to life.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Haunting and Exhilirating
(Updated: January 20, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Africa is my Home: A child of the Amistad, reveals the tale of a young girl who was taken from her family and narrowly escaped the all-too-common fate of being sold into slavery the moment she set foot in the Americas, due to the bravery of the men on board her particular slave ship. As I read her tale, I was able to picture in my mind the utter loss, devastation, pain, and suffering of the people who endured this tragic and too-long chapter in our nation's history. I learned many things of which I was completely unaware, and the way the story is woven is exceptional. The illustrations paired with the fictional account based on true events enabled me to follow the storyline and I think will help others retain more information and detail. The author shares that she wrote this story as a fictional account written firsthand by Margru because it was more difficult to write it from the third person. I also feel that it would have removed the necessary emotions from the story--emotions I believe important to experience simply because of the nature of teaching and telling history. I used to loathe the subject, and now I seek it out and thoroughly enjoy learning about it on my own because of the way the authors I have read tell it, drawing me in rather than listing dates and facts in a robotic fashion. Monica Edinger possesses that special storytelling ability.

Africa is my Home tells the story of the Amistand in a way that is compelling and leave a lasting impression. The illustrations lend a particularly exotic charm to the book. Though this is written for older children, I was able to read this story to my younger (3 and 5) kids (skipping the more gruesome sections), who were captivated by it. I really can find no fault in this book as it is done exceptionally well. I think it would also be a great addition to any curriculum on the history of slavery.
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5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
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Africa Is My Home
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
The story of Sarah Margru Kinson’s journey to America is absolutely remarkable and miraculous, considering that slavery during that time was, sadly enough, the major economy in our country’s history. Certainly there are many books available detailing the accounts of the Amistad; however, there are very few books targeting our youth and documenting the story of an African girl's serendipitous slave ship experience.
Magulu, as she was known in Mendeland (known today as Sierra Leone) in West Africa, was nine years old when she was taken captive by slave traders and put aboard a ship destined for Cuba. After seven weeks of traveling in complete darkness within the ship’s dank and unventilated hold, Magulu arrived in Cuba only to be sold and to be put aboard another ship, the Amistad, in yet another hold with about fifty other Mende, who were mostly men and three other children. Little did she know that Cinque, the well-known leader of the Amistad Mende, was devising plans for their freedom. Of course, the rest is history to readers familiar with the story, yet it does not include details about what became of the children, particularly Magulu.
Although the Amistad was fortunate to land in Connecticut, where slavery was illegal, the Mende men were, nonetheless, tried for mutiny and murder. Magulu (who was renamed Margru) and the three other children were considered witnesses. While the trial, which the Mende eventually won, dragged on for many months, the children in the meantime were given the wonderful opportunity to go to school. Margru in particular, who had quite a teachable spirit and the mark of a true missionary, was brought to the attention of Lewis Tappan -- a New York abolitionist who worked to achieve the freedom of slaves and who came to the defense of the Mende.
Before returning to West Africa, Margru was christened with a new name of her choosing: Sarah Kinson. Some white missionaries accompanied her and the other Mende on their trip home in hopes of setting up a mission; however, because of the fragile state of one of the white missionary women, Tappen recommended that Margru accompany her back to America. He also encouraged Margru to further her education by attending Oberlin College in Ohio, which she did, thus making her one of the first female international students in America.
Edinger’s use of first-person narrative laced with free-verse poetry not only brings Margru to life, but also personally connects young readers with a child of their age group who journals how it felt to be pulled away from her home and country to travel into unknown territory. The final touch of Byrd’s colorful yet meticulous child-like illustrations brings Margru’s story to completion. AFRICA IS MY HOME chronicles the life of one child’s near brush with slavery that opens the door to education -- truly a breath of fresh air during a detestable period of our country’s history. Included in this historical fiction are reproductions of primary resources and a personal note from the author. I consider it both an honor and privilege to read and review a story that is close to my heart and a powerful piece of the history of my community - Oberlin, Ohio.
Originally posted on Kidsreads.com.
Anita Lock, Book Reviewer
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