Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley

Ann Malaspina
Illustrator:  Susan Keeter 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Albert Whitman & Company, 2010   ISBN: 978-0807565452

It was autumn in 1775, and General George Washington was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was preparing his soldiers for battle and hoping that they had what they needed to be able to take back the city of Boston, which was in British hands. The general’s soldiers were trained and ready for the battle that was to some, but they did not have enough gunpowder, cannons, and guns.

Many miles away, a young African American woman, a poet called Phillis Wheatly, thought about the colonist cause. It was a cause she believed it because she knew how precious freedom was. Taken from her home and family and forced into slavery, Phillis was lucky enough to be bought by kind people who took care of and educated her. Phillis developed a gift for writing poetry and had even had a collection of her poems published.

Now no longer a slave, Phillis wanted to “help free the colonists” from tyrannical British rule, but all she had to offer was her skill as a poet. She wasn’t sure if General Washington would like to receive one of her poems, but she decided to write one for him anyway.

In this well written picture book, the author shows us how the lives of two of America’s famous people briefly connected. Though the connection was fleeting, it still was important to both parties. It is interesting to see how the author weaves together the story of two people who led very different lives.

At the back of the book, the author provides readers with further information about Phillis Wheatley and George Washington.