HOME IS WITH OUR FAMILY by Joyce Hansen, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Disney Jump at the Sun, 2010, $16.99 No release date provided.) I reviewed this title reading an advance reading copy; therefore,I am unable to provide a date for its release or to comment on any of the Chapter opener art to come.)
For visitors to New York City who have spent any time in Central Park, this story will have special relevance. In March 1855 an article in the New York Daily Times warned citizens the city would be taking over a large area to make a park. Much of the area was swampy and rocky and occupied by the lowest dregs of the city. Also included was a little settlement called BLACK VILLAGE.
In this settlement author Hansen has set her delightful story of Maria Peters and her family. The Peters family run a small general store which serves in the capacity of a community center. Everything happening in the community revolves around this shop and the village school and church. Maria is the oldest daughter in her family and seems to excel in all school subjects except sewing. Her promotion to becoming a “Monitor” is dependent on her showing ability to make a shirt.
There are so many other activities which keep Maria involved in village life. She befriends a new classmate Anna. Anna finally confesses her parents have bought their freedom but Anna is still owned by a former miserable mistress. Slave catchers have been sent North to rescue her property. viz Anna. Maria is sworn to secrecy. Sojourner Truth is in the neighborhood and so Maria decides to contact her to arrange for Anna’s freedom.
The story is alive with suspense and humor. Family life of the period is depicted with careful attention to details. School life is also covered with fun attention to classroom life in the period. The story does provide some hope for the family after their property is sold.