The true story of the fugitive slave and Civil War hero Robert Smalls. With his family aboard, Smalls and his fellow slave crew members commandeered a southern supply ship and sailed it out of Charlestown harbor into the Union waters.
Felicia Marshall, illustrator
Millbrook Press, 2006
Behind the Book
I first heard of Robert Smalls when I was researching other little known Civil War stories for a book on Flag Bearers. His story stuck with me and from time-to-time while working on other projects I would delve a little deeper into his story. The more I dug for information, the harder it was for me to find. I soon realized that there was not a lot written about Robert Smalls for children (and not that much written for adults either) and the idea to tell his story was born.
Newly competent readers are likely to thrill to this well told story of the Civil War hero, Robert Smalls. With his family aboard, Smalls and his fellow slave crew members commandeered a southern supply ship and sailed it out of Charlestown harbor into the Union waters. While the sentence structure is kept fairly simple, some of the vocabulary may be challenging, simply because it refers to objects and activities from long ago (carriage, lamplighter, cannon, Confederates). However, Brown's telling is vivid and the illustrations will help with context clues. An Afterword, written at a higher reading level, gives more information about Smalls, including the fact that he eventually became a member of the U.S. Congress. The book also includes a bibliography of sources, including primary sources such as Smalls' letters. Marshall's somewhat sepia toned paintings are fairly realistic and reinforce the sense that this is a genuine informational work, not just a little kids' book. —Mary Hynes-Berry
Newly competent readers are likely to thrill to this well told story of the Civil War hero, Robert Smalls.... a valuable addition to a reading tutor's collection as well as an excellent selection for a classroom... —Children's Literature Network
Brown makes this an exciting, well-told story that may spark readers to search for more information. —The Horn Book Guide
Offers full-page color illustrations and provides believable text that captures the story of the slave boy who grew up to be a free man. —MultiCultural Review