Book Review: Samuel’s Journey by Emma Trusty

Happy Friday!

This week inadvertently became something of a Children’s Lit Week here at Reviews From the Stacks. ICYMI, on Tuesday I highlighted a new picture book release: Snowball and the Missing Apple (see Tuesday’s post for all the info). Today I’m reviewing another children’s book: Samuel’s Journey: Choices and Changes by Emma Trusty.

Personally, I think it is important to take a look at children’s books every once in a while just to know what’s out there, regardless of whether you have children at the moment or not! Part of this is simply because, as an avid childhood reader, I want to know what is available to today’s kids and what they might be reading, but also because of the way literature reflects the direction the world is going and the society it is created in. Children’s books are no exception. They may deal with things differently, and approach issues in more subtle ways, but they still often deal with the important things in life.

Let’s get into the review!

 

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About the Book:

Title: Samuel’s Journey: Choices and Changes (Goodreads page)

Author and Illustrator: Emma Trusty

Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction (early 1800s)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): A hearty handshake. A snapping of the fingers. A sturdy slap on the shoulder. “Baggage”. “Fish”. What does it all mean? What is Samuel’s connection to all of the secrecy?

Young Samuel, a boy who was born around 1790, is growing up and coming into his own – and his Pa and Ma couldn’t be prouder! “Samuel’s Journey: Choices and Changes”, the third book in a series about curious Samuel, reveals the inner-workings of the historical runaway slaves – the aforementioned “baggage” – who traveled the Underground Railroad along the Eastern seaboard of the United States in a fun and engaging way for youth and adults alike. Illustrated by the author, you will connect with characters and scenes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


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My Thoughts:

Although Samuel’s Journey: Choices and Changes is part of a series, I had no trouble reading it on its own. It’s a short book, which I easily read in about an hour. The writing in simple, and there is a glossary in the back with words children may not be familiar with (words like “adjacent,” “barter,” and “decision”). Unfortunately, the formatting on the Kindle version I read did not have these lined up very well, but hopefully the print version is better.

Based on the content and writing, I would recommend this for kids around eight to eleven years old who are just starting to learn about slavery, the Civil War, and similar topics. Younger children could most likely comprehend the story, and this is a fair introduction to the Underground Railroad. To get the most out of Samuel’s Journey, it should be paired with other introductory lessons to what life was like in the 1800s and the events taking place. The illustrations are also cute and compliment the story nicely.

The Verdict:

Samuel’s Journey: Choices and Changes is written with a light-hearted tone and, while occasionally a bit repetitive, keeps the story moving forward with simple but engaging writing. It looks at the Underground Railroad from the perspective of a young boy in the early 1800s, providing accurate information and an easy-to-grasp story for readers who are just starting to learn about this time period. The inclusion of simple illustrations, a glossary, and a map at the end assist the reader with comprehension and could help keep reluctant readers interested. I recommend this to parents and teachers of elementary level students, to accompany lessons or conversations on slavery, the American Civil War, or the 1800s in general.

 

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What do you think, readers? Should I branch out into children’s fiction more often? I have to say I enjoy it once in a while. It seems helpful to have in my literary arsenal, as an aunt and as a library worker. Even if it were not so relevant to my personal and professional life, adults have a responsibility to know what children in our communities are being taught through all kinds of media, including which books are made available.

Question of the Day:

Is there anything in the world of children’s literature that you wish was talked about more often?

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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