Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden

Synopsis: Based on an actual memoir written by Maritcha Rimond Lyons, who was born and raised in New York City, this poignant story tells what it was like to be a black child born free during the days of slavery. Everyday experiences are interspersed with high-point moments, such as visiting the U.S.'s first world's fair. Also included are the Draft Riots of 1863, when Maritcha and her siblings fled to Brooklyn while her parents stayed behind to protect their home. The book concludes with her fight to attend a whites-only high school in Providence, Rhode Island, and her triumphant victory, making her the first black person in its graduating class. The book includes photographs of Maritcha, her family, and friends, as well as archival and contemporary maps, photographs, and illustrations. (from the online description)

Review: Bolden's biography of Maritcha Lyons introduces the reader to young girl of profound courage, resilience, and intellect. Born in Manhattan in 1848, Lyons grew up amid New York City’s thriving black community. Connected to many prominent citizens, she witnesses the Underground Railroad (her parents were conductors), the struggle to end slavery, and the abuse of the black citizens of America. Her family fled New York during the New York Draft Riots of 1863 and settled in Providence, where she was part of the legislation to desegregate the local girls High School. 

Bolden does an excellent job of weaving her narrative text with the documents and pictures of Lyon’s life. With clear, accessible prose, she opens up not only the life of this girl but the life of blacks in New York during the mid-1800s. I highly recommend this book for any mid-grade non-fiction reading, and in particular, young girls will find Maritcha’s life inspiring and uplifting. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: James Madison Book Award Winner / Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book /  YALSA Best Book for Young Adults / ALSC Notable Children’s Book / NAPPA Gold Award Winner / CCBC Best Book of the Year / New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age”

ISBN: 0-8109-5045-6
Year Published: 2005
Date Finished: 12-26-2016
Pages: 47

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