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Nightjohn [Mass Market Paperback]

Gary Paulsen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 7.99
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1995
"To know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. We get to wanting and when we get to wanting it's bad for them. They thinks we want what they got . . . . That's why they don't want us reading." --Nightjohn



"I didn't know what letters was, not what they meant, but I thought it might be something I wanted to know. To learn." -- Sarny



Sarny, a female slave at the Waller plantation, first sees Nightjohn when he is brought there with a rope around his neck, his body covered in scars.



He had escaped north to freedom, but he came back--came back to teach reading. Knowing that the penalty for reading is dismemberment Nightjohn still retumed to slavery to teach others how to read. And twelve-year-old Sarny is willing to take the risk to learn.



Set in the 1850s, Gary Paulsen's groundbreaking new novel is unlike anything else the award-winning author has written. It is a meticulously researched, historically accurate, and artistically crafted portrayal of a grim time in our nation's past, brought to light through the personal history of two unforgettable characters.

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Product Details


Product Description

From Amazon

Imagine being beaten for learning to read, shackled and whipped for learning a few letters of the alphabet. Now, imagine a man brave enough to risk torture in order to teach others how to read; his name is Nightjohn, and he sneaks into the slave camps at night to teach other slaves how to read and write. Celebrated author Gary Paulsen writes a searing meditation on why the ability to read and write is radical, empowering , and so necessary to our freedom. These skills threaten our oppressors because they allow us to communicate--to learn the real status of our slavery and to seek liberation. In this tightly written, painful, joyous little novel is a key that may unlock the power of reading for even the most reluctant teens.

From Publishers Weekly

Among the most powerful of Paulsen's works ( Hatchet ; The Winter Room ; Dogsong ), this impeccably researched novel sheds light on cruel truths in American history as it traces the experiences of a 12-year-old slave girl in the 1850s. Narrator Sarny exposes the abuse (routine beatings, bondage, dog attacks, forced "breeding") suffered by her people on the Waller plantation. The punishment for learning to read and write, she knows, is a bloody one, but when new slave Nightjohn offers to teach her the alphabet, Sarny readily agrees. Her decision causes pain for others as well as for herself, yet, inspired by the bravery of Nightjohn, who has given up a chance for freedom in order to educate slaves, Sarny continues her studies. Convincingly written in dialect, this graphic depiction of slavery evokes shame for this country's forefathers and sorrow for the victims of their inhumanity. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Thing March 22 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
NightJohn was one of the few books that stuck in my mind. This book taught me to appriciate that I live in the time where we moslty always get along. This book is about a 10 year old African American slave that lives on the Waller plantation. people think she is dumb because she is quiet, but that is how she learn she listens and learn things. then one day while working on the roses in the garden by the "white house" where Sarny over heard that Mr. Waller bought a new slave. the wife said that he cost one thousand dollars. later that day there came Mr. Waller with a man nadked as the day he was born came to the main yard. then he just runns him in to the faild to start working. later that night he sits alone in a corner of the quaters. he asks for a lip of tobacco. since Sarny was working in the flower bed she had to chew and spit tobacco on the roses to keep the bugs away. she still had some left over and wonders what he could have to offer for he had nothing. then he says that he would trade it for letters. Sarny wondered what these "letters" he was talking about. will she trade or not?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Has an important and powerful message Feb. 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading - what does it mean to you? Many adore that word, and those people happen to be bookworms. But some detest that word, considering that reading is boring. Many people take reading for granted. But for an enslaved person, the ability to read is very powerful.
"Nightjohn" is the tale of a young, female, black slave who learned how to read, and the man who dared break the rules to teach it. Sarny is a curious, little girl, a slave from birth, who resides in the plantation of Mr. Waller during the Civil War. For her, life is the same, until a mysterious black man named John teaches her something new, the ability to read and write. Though the rules forbid that a slave should learn that, Sarney and John risk everything to learn and teach one of man's most powerful tactics.
"Nightjohn" - an inspiring tale set during a time of despair and suffering, when the Civil War tore a nation apart, when people sorrowfully leave their families to do what they believed was right. It was a time when slavery existed, and suffering slaves risk their lives to seek freedom.
Short and fast-moving (only 90 pages), "Nightjohn" has an important message. Many people can learn from this story. It teaches that words are the most powerful weapon that can be used against injustice and corruption. The book acuratelly portrays the cruel and violent life of a slave during 1800s America, and the despairs and hopes they kept during a horrible time. "Nightjohn" will convince you that slavery should never have existed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Times On Southern Plantations May 28 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Bosses big house, breeding sheds, an dthe whipping barns are some of the buildings on the plantation that NightJohn and the rest of the African Americans come into contact with everyday.
In NightJohn by Gary Paulsen there is a white southerner slave owner named Waller.Waller buys a slave named NightJohn and brings him to his plantation. At this plantation he meets up with another enslaved young girl named Sarny.NightJohn makes a deal with her and his trade is that he will teach her to readand write. Waller catches Sarny writing words in the sand and the reat of the book is filled with sadness and hard times for Sarny and NightJohn.
This book was great. I liked it for the detailsin the writing and for the suprise ending. The reason i liked the wrkiting is because of the detailed description the author gave of the plantation. I think that this book had such an effect on me that I will never forget NightJohn's courage.This book reminds me of the time thatI went to Florida because on the way back we tour of a Georgia plantation.I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about history because this book is about a part of our history that most of us would like to forget.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short book but great read Jan. 11 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you are not a big fan of reading like me and you have to have the perfect book then you will love Nightjohn. It is a mshort read but Gary Paulsen keeps you in the story like you are witnessing everything that is going on. The book takes place in the early 1800's. It is about a thirteen year old slave girl named Sarny who in the beging of the book starts talking about when she was young she was sepperated from her mother. She also describes what it was like to be sold at an auction. Later on in the book she is a little older and she describes what her duties are as a slave working in and around the plantation house "the big house." One day, a new slave comes to work on the plantation. The man comes out of the wagon butt naked and has absolutly nothing. Later that night Sarny traded a tobacco leaf with this new slave named Nightjohn. But little does Sarny know that Nightjohn has an amazing gift that hardly any slaves have which is the abilitly to read. You have to read the book to find out all the positive things about reading and all the things that get her in a lot of trouble. This book is one of Gary Paulsens' more sensative books. i recomend this book to anyone, even if you hate to read i promis that you will love it. That is why i gave this book five stores because you read the first book and it pulls you right in.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Night john
In Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen there were many interasting points.The book Nightjohn is about a man named Nightjohn. He has a daughter and her name is Lany. Read more
Published on June 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars NIGHT JOHN
IN THE BOOK NIGHT JOHNBY GARY PAULSEN.THE PRISONER WAS GOING TO ESCAPE FROM JAIL BECAUSE HE WAS STUCK INJAIL FOR LIFE. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by timmy tunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Life of Slaves on a Plantation
NIGHTJOHN
"Nightjohn" was an extraordinary book about slaves and one slave,
Sarny, who did what no one could do. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Nightjohn
Nightjohn is a very exiting book. This book is about a 14-year-old slave named Sarny who meets a slave who ran away to the north, but came back to teach slaves how to read. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightjohn
This book is about Sarny, telling the story of John. He is the new slave brought to the plantation. He knows how to read and write and Sarny wants to learn. Read more
Published on March 6 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Night John
"Night John" was the best book I have ever read. Gary Paulsen books have lots of action. I want to read more of his books. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars NightJohn
The protagonist is this girl who doesn't know how to read or write. The conflict is shes trying to learn how to read ,but she doesn'thave anyone to teach her. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2002 by Melinda Lundberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Nonforgetable!
I remember in fifth grade (5 years ago) my teacher read out loud to the class. This is probably the most unforgetable book I've ever read. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars brutal and graphic
This story is an intense and graphic account of the brutal conditions endured by slaves. The "Master" exerted extreme control over all facets of the slaves' lives, including... Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars NightJohn
This book is great for students that are into learning about slavery, and things that would happen to them if they did something wrong. Read more
Published on June 5 2002 by Martha
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