Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith by Chandler B. Saint & George A. Krimsky

Sometimes I am stunned by what I don’t know! Making Freedom The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith educated me about a very significant person from Connecticut’s early history.

Born the son of a tribal prince in about the year of 1729 in an interior West African country, Broteer Furro, was from a cattle-herding people. His African name would be one of his memories of his homeland.

Venture Smith was the name Broteer was given as a slave. His people in Africa were invaded by an army of other Africans and forced to march nearly 400 miles to the sea. Venture was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time. They were held in the infamous “Slave Castle” (a fortress much more like a dungeon) on what is now the coast of Ghana.
Venture survived the barbaric “middle passage” on board the ship from Africa to Barbados. He was named Venture by the man who decided to keep him as the ship continued on its journey to Newport, Rhode Island.

Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith details the three slave masters he suffered under and his eventual freedom which he earned by paying for it.
His narrative was recorded by a school teacher named Elisha Niles and verified by five prominent residents of New London, Connecticut.

I especially liked this quotation from the Foreword of the book written by James O. Horton: “Venture Smith’s story is also the iconic story of a self-made man who struggled against the greatest of odds to become a successful entrepreneur. This volume tells this story through the extraordinary life of a man one cannot help but admire.”
Education yourself about one of Connecticut’s most successful black entrepreneurs by reading about Venture Smith!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” --from Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The bribe of the watch is what saved Jonas’s life. The Soviets had invaded Lithuania. They had taken Lina’s mother and her brother that morning. Lina’s father, the Provost of a University, was nowhere to be found. They had already taken him the night before!

Where were they being taken? Cattle cars in a rail station would be their “new home” for the next six weeks along with thousands of other Lithuanians who had also been a threat to the Soviets. Siberia and slave labor would be at their destination.

How will Lina, her beautiful mother, and her brother going to survive? Will they ever see their father again? Will they ever be able to return to their homeland?

Read this powerful historical fiction novel to find out!