Escape Across the Wide Sea
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Escape Across the Wide Sea
Author: Katherine Kirkpatrick
Major Themes: Caribbean, France, Guadaloupe, Huguenots, New York, Persecution, Slavery, West Indies
Synopsis: After Daniel and his family escape from the king’s dragoons in France, they run into other dangers on board a slave ship and in the West Indies.
How much do you know about the Huguenots who were forced to leave France in the 1600s? I didn’t know much of anything before reading Escape Across the Wide Sea! This is a fascinating story, although some of my children think it’s boring. Granted, it doesn’t have the high level of tension some books do, but I found it well-written and interesting.
Young Daniel Bonnet and his parents lived near La Rochelle, France in 1686, in a small village where Daniel’s father was a well-known weaver. Life was good, and things were easy, until one day the king’s dragoons showed up and ransacked the weaving shop, telling the Bonnet’s that they would be back and if the family hadn’t converted to Catholicism, they would be killed. That night, Daniel and his parents left their home and fled to La Rochelle. However, that city had been taken over by the Catholics and they were no safer there than at home.
The Bonnet family found passage on board a ship that they were told would take them to England. Imagine their dismay when they learned it was actually going south…to Senegambia, in Africa, to take on a cargo of slaves…and then west across the Atlantic to Guadaloupe! The trip on the slaver was horrible, and then soon after they arrived in the West Indies they learned that they were still not safe from the dragoons. What would the family do now? And would Daniel’s leg, injured during the initial escape, allow him to do what he wanted to do?
This is an amazing story, based on true accounts. While reading it, you will experience life in France, conditions on board a slave ship, life on a sugar plantation in the West Indies, and life in the American colonies! You will also learn about the faith of the Huguenots, French Protestants. Escape Across the Wide Sea is an amazing addition to any study of the Reformation, slavery, or the settlement of North America.
WARNING: Near the beginning of the book, Daniel’s leg is badly injured. This scene is fairly graphic. There is violence every once in a while throughout the book—usually not too bad, possibly the worst being how the slaves were treated. (Will update with specific places after we unpack this book!)
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy Escape Across the Wide Sea:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Caribbean, France, Guadaloupe, Huguenots, New York, Persecution, Slavery, West Indies
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