Cover image for A voice of her own : the story of Phillis Wheatley, slave poet
A voice of her own : the story of Phillis Wheatley, slave poet
Lasky, Kathryn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) color illustrations ; 31 cm
A biography of an African girl brought to New England as a slave in 1761 who became famous on both sides of the Atlantic as the first Black poet in America.
Reading Level:
940 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.9 1.0 67091.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.2 3 Quiz: 36135 Guided reading level: S.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS866.W5 Z65 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS866.W5 Z65 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS866.W5 Z65 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS866.W5 Z65 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

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In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston. The family named her Phillis after the schooner that transported her to slavery. Kidnapped from her home in Africa, she had everything taken away from her, but Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl.

Author Notes

Kathryn Lasky was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 24, 1944, and knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she was ten. She majored in English in college and after graduation wrote for various magazines and taught. Her first book, I Have Four Names for My Grandfather, was published while she was teaching.

She has written more than seventy books for children and young adults on everything from historical fiction to picture books and nonfiction books including the Dear America books and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Many of her books are illustrated with photographs by her husband, Christopher Knight. She has received many awards for her titles including Sugaring Time which was a Newberry Honor Book; The Night Journey which won the National Jewish Book Award for Children; Pageant which was an ALA Notable Children's book; and Beyond the Burning Time which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She has also received the Washington Post's Children's Book Guild Award for her contribution to children's nonfiction. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. Named for the slave ship Phillis that brought her to Boston in 1761, Wheatley became America's first black female poet. In this picture-book biography, Lasky follows Wheatley's story, from the horrors of the slave ship and the auction to the slave-owning Wheatley home, where Phillis' owners educated her as an experiment to see "if it might be possible to teach an African to read and write." Phillis mastered several languages and began to write original verse when she was a preteen, eventually publishing a volume of poems and gaining wide acclaim. In evocative language that's rich with historical detail, Lasky gives children a broader view of Wheatley's story by anchoring it within the events of the Revolutionary War. She includes an epilogue that briefly describes Wheatley's tragic adult years, but there is, unfortunately, no mention of sources or bibliography. Nonetheless, this will serve as a good introduction to Wheatley's life and times for young children, who will appreciate Lee's full-page, historically accurate acrylics. Lasky shows not only the facts of Wheatley's life but also the pain of being an accomplished black woman in a segregated world. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

PW called this picture-book biography of the first published African-American woman poet a "lyrical portrait. The large-scale, realistic acrylics emphasize Wheatley's strength and constancy amidst the turbulent tenor of her times." Ages 8-12. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Arriving in Boston in 1760 via slave ship when she was just 7 years old, Wheatley became a learned young woman who was writing poetry by the age of 12. "At seventeen Phillis became famous" when her poem honoring the Reverend George Whitefield was read in the Colonies and in England. Lasky's episodic account breaks the picture-book text into chapters that are sometimes fictionalized or speculative and other times explanatory as they sketch the poet's growing accomplishments, her brief trip to England, and the pre-Revolutionary War events unfolding around her. Narrated in simple staccato sentences, the opening slave ship scene emphasizes the starkness of this experience. Later explanations of historical events become more complex. Lasky draws numerous parallels between the poet's love of freedom and the patriots' cause and concludes with her hard at work writing into the night to describe her African roots to a British soldier. The author's focus is on the poet's intellectual accomplishments and the publication of her book-"the first ever written by a black American woman." Wheatley's adult life and early death are skimmed in an epilogue. Lee's handsome acrylic paintings, including a commanding cover portrait, convey a fine sense of the period. However, in the depictions of Wheatley, the young woman never changes much over the years. Except for a small number of manuscript reproductions, sources are not acknowledged. A bit vague and disconnected at times, this book fills a gap as few accounts of the legendary Wheatley are currently available for children.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.