Monday, January 22, 2007

Copper Sun

Draper, Sharon. 2006. COPPER SUN. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689821816 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

At times hard to read, Copper Sun is a brutally frank look at the slave trade through the eyes of 15-year-old Amari. Draper details the horrors of Amari’s life, watching the slaughter of her village before being taken across the ocean, branded, and sold as a birthday gift to a wealthy plantation owner’s son. Readers are introduced to Polly as she waits at the slave auction for her master to finish his business. Polly is an indentured white girl paying off the debts of her parents, and introduces a concept that many readers might not realize existed, that not all whites were in positions of power. Her initial ignorant, arrogant attitude exemplifies the mindset of the times, “Polly wondered if Negroes from Africa had feeling and intelligent thoughts or if that gibberish they spoke was more like the screaming of monkeys or the barking of dogs.” As both girls suffer at the hands of the plantation master, a tenuous bond between them grows into friendship, and their ultimate desperate escape highlights that no matter the color of one’s skin, humanity’s most valuable asset is freedom.

An afterword from the author includes historical information on the settlement to which Amari escaped, Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black town within the current borders of the United States.

Trace Amari’s journey on a map and look at the history of Fort Mose in Florida. Where did slaves escape to during this time period? What were the options for freed slaves?

Other fiction dealing with slavery:
Lester, Julius. TIME’S MEMORY. ISBN 0374371784
McCormick, Patricia. SOLD. ISBN 0786851716

By Tammy Korns

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