post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Samuel’s Choice
Author: Richard Berleth
Major Themes: Battle of Long Island, Slavery, Historical Fiction, Picture Books, American Revolution
Synopsis: After he witnesses the Battle of Long Island, a young slave boy realizes that the patriots are fighting for the same thing he wants to have.
Samuel’s Choice is quite an interesting picture book about the Battle of Long Island from the point of view of an African slave. We enjoyed the simple, yet profound story as well as the beautiful paintings that illustrate it.
Samuel is a young slave owned by a rich farmer on Long Island. He works all day to grind wheat for other people, but rarely gets to eat bread himself. Then one day, the slaves see a white man’s celebration going on and learn that the white people have decided they will be free. Can they, themselves, ever be free? One wise woman tells the others they can be free only if they decide to be.
Then one day, they hear that Washington’s soldiers have arrived on Long Island—and the King’s soldiers come, too. What will happen next? The slaves see a battle, and then they find a way to help the colonial side. What will happen to them after their incredible experience?
If you’re interested in the American Revolution, this is a good story for children. It brings the struggles of the time to life, both the political struggles and the struggle of the African slaves for freedom. The ending is quite sweet, too!
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12
Links to buy Samuel’s Choice:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Battle of Long Island, Slavery, Historical Fiction, Picture Books, American Revolution