Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Freedom Ship

Freedom Ship

Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator:  Curtis James 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Hyperion , 2006   ISBN: 978-0786806454

Samuel and his father are slaves, and they work on a Confederate steamer called the Planter. From the steamer, Samuel can see Union warships in the Atlantic Ocean. They are blockading Charleston Harbor. Though those ships are the enemy for the Confederates, for Samuel and the other slaves on the steamer, they represent freedom.

One night Samuel is woken up by his Mama. She leads Samuel to the river where they board a merchant ship, along with several other women and children. To Samuel’s amazement, the ship takes them to the Planter, and soon all the women and children are on board the steamer. It would seem that Robert Small, the pilot of the steamer, is going to make a run for it. They are going to try to get to the Union ships.

The story in this memorable picture book is based on real events that took place off the coast of Charleston on May 13, 1862, during the American Civil War. It is interesting to see this historical event through the eyes of a child, and to appreciate how much courage the slaves on the ship hard. They were willing to risk their lives to get to freedom.