Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: A Williamsburg Household by Joan Anderson and George Ancona

Synopsis: The front room/back room qualities of colonial life and slavery are well captured in both the story and the photographs, taken in Williamsburg, Virginia. From early morning until late in the evening Rippon, a young black slave, toils at the Wetherburn Tavern. His father is a field hand, his mother a house slave for Mr. Moody, who once also owned Rippon. Mixed in with his daily duties are some worries that Rippon has for his friend Aberdeen, who angrily rejects his slave existence. (from the online description)

Review: This was a clever book although a bit white-washed. Instead of illustrations, the story was acted out in a series of vignette photographs, with real people and places. I didn't realize when I picked it up that the story was told mostly from the viewpoint of the house slaves. This was good. While lacking in some of the more sordid details and violence of slave life, it was a good introduction to life back them. There was a little to much "blacks like their life as a slave" for me, but that was mostly balanced by the clear depiction of the family being separated and the boy Rippon who balked at being a slave - and was punished for it. A good addition to any child's reading list, but as I said, only as an introduction. It should be followed-up with books with more accurate descriptions, or better yet, biographies of Harriet Tubman or George Washington Carver.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0395547915
Date Finished: 8-3-2015
Pages: 48

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