A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clottee, a Slave Girl Hardcover – Mar 1997
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The plot, in brief, involves 12-year-old Clotee, a slave girl on the Belmont plantation in Virginia. She has managed to teach herself to read and write while fanning her young master William during his lessons. She keeps a make-shift diary in which she records life on the plantation.
When reading to a young audience, you will want to be prepared to address a couple of issues - there is the terrible beating and subsequent death of one of the slaves. Although it is hard to read about, no accurate portrayal of slavery would be complete without such incidents. There is talk of one of the slaves who is suspected to be the son of the master. Also briefly mentioned is the issue of a white overseer who desires for himself one of the slave girls. This cannot be glossed over becuase it becomes critical later in the book in a very climactic incident. I personally felt it was a good opportunity to review "inappropriate touching" with my 7-year-old who knows the basics, but not all, of the "birds and bees".
For some, there will come the issue of whether it is okay to use dishonesty to achieve what most would call a higher cause. It makes for a good philosophical discussion. Most of the people I have talked to agree with me on this, but I have one sister-in-law who differs powerfully. In any case, and whatever your personal feelings on the issue, it would be a shame to miss this book - use is at a teaching tool.
I do think some great moral lessons are present in the book - self-restraint, personal sacrifice, restitution of wrong-doing, and many more.
One thing that I especially loved about the book was that despite the terrible circumstances of slavery which are clearly addressed in the book, you end the book with the feeling of triumph and appreciation for those who gave so much to the cause of freedom.
In 1859, 12 year old Clotee lives on the Belmont Plantation in Virginia, where she works in the "big house". She's used to hard work and obeying her master - except for one thing. Clotee teaches herself to read.
Through this diary that Clotee keeps, you follow her life, with her working and making friends, her thoughts about escaped slaves, her worries that her diary will be found, and her learning about abolitionists, who her master hates! When a teacher comes to the plantation to tutor the boy there, she finds out his secret. Can he help her?
This was a great, exciting book on a brave slave girl, and I'd recommend it for ages 10 - 14! I'd also recommend some other books on slavery, Letters from a Slave Girl, and I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly.