Saturday, February 23, 2013

Come August, Come Freedom

Title: Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel
Author: Gigi Amateau 
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: September, 2012 
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: An 1800 insurrection planned by a literate slave known as "Prosser’s Gabriel" inspires a historical novel following one extraordinary man’s life.
     In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. History knows little of Gabriel’s early life. But here, author Gigi Amateau imagines a childhood shaped by a mother’s devotion, a father’s passion for liberation, and a friendship with a white master’s son who later proved cowardly and cruel. She gives vibrant life to Gabriel’s love for his wife-to-be, Nanny, a slave woman whose freedom he worked tirelessly, and futilely, to buy. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history. 
What I Think: I love great historical fiction because it allows readers to learn about a time or moment or person in history. Narrative text is my favorite, so reading a story that is based on true history is great. I enjoy narrative non-fiction for this same reason. What always blows my mind about narrative non-fiction or historical fiction is that oftentimes I read about something or someone historical that I didn't know about or had very little knowledge of before. I think I say this every time I read historical fiction but it is so true. I had never heard of Gabriel but the author did an excellent job of bringing his story to life and making me feel that I had to go look up what Gabriel's true story really was. This connection that historical fiction makes with non-fiction reading is what excites me the most. I love when one book leads to another book or some other text. To me, it's the definition of inquiry based learning. If I want to go look for more information because I'm curious, I feel that I'm going to be more likely to learn the information as well as just more interested in general. I love the implications of this for students.
     What I really love about this book is that things move pretty quickly. Readers get to follow Gabriel throughout his whole entire life. The author did a great job of highlighting parts of his childhood all through adulthood that link directly to what made him believe so strongly in freedom for African Americans and encouraged him to lead a rebellion. I can see how this story could be used to look seemed to contribute to his strong will and desire to be free. It was refreshing to read a book that does move quickly.
Read Together: Grades 5 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 12 
Read With: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson,  Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, A Voice of Her Own and others by Kathryn Lasky
Snatch of Text: 
"The conviction that had been growing in his heart for some years, which burned only stronger since he'd come back from Jacob's forge, formed clearly in him now: I am my own master. Gabriel belongs only to Gabriel." p. 84 
Mentor Text For: Non-Fiction Text Structures, Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions  
Writing Prompts: Write about an experience or experiences in your life that have shaped your values and beliefs.  
Topics Covered: Freedom, Love, Will, Determination, Beliefs, Values, Motivation
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