Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive (History's

The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive (History's

Marty Rhodes Figley
Illustrator:  Ted Hammond , Richard Pimentel Carbajal 
Historical Fiction Graphic Novel
For ages 7 to 9
Lerner, 2011   ISBN: 978-0761370758

Though his grandparents were slaves who were brought from Africa to America, James Forten was born free. When James was just seven years old, his father died. James went to school - while working on the side - for two years, but then his family needed his wages and James began to work fulltime. When America when to war with Britain to gain her independence, James felt that he too should do his part to serve his country, so he got a job on a privately own ship, the Royal Louis, as a powder monkey.

On October 8, 1781, the captain of the Royal Louis was forced to surrender to the captain of the Amphion, a British Ship. James Forten was afraid that the English would think he was a slave, but luckily he was befriended by the British captain’s son. The two boys got along well, and the British captain even offered to take James back to England, saying that James would have a good life there. James was tempted by the offer, but he did not feel that he could abandon his country, and so James was transported to the Jersey, a British prison ship. James knew full well that there was a good chance that the people on the prison ship would think he was a slave, or that he would die on the ship, but he went anyway.

This excellent Graphic Universe title is based on the true story of James Forten. The author provides readers with information about James Forten’s life before his capture and after, showing young readers that James Forten truly was a brave and loyal young man who made difficult decisions in trying times. The comic book style art is sure to appeal to young readers who prefer books that have lots of illustrations.