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Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
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Nightjohn (1996)

by Gary Paulsen

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What a touching realistic story. I felt very connected to this story. Its about a little girl in slavery that learns how to write even though she is a slave. Nightjohn wanted to teach kids how to write since they weren't getting any education. Age-4th
  Jessie32 | Dec 9, 2014 |
I liked this book overall. It was told from the perspective of a young slave girl who was rapidly approaching puberty, at which point her role and "dutites" as a slave would change significantly. This girl's name is Sarny, and during the course of the book, she makes friends with a man named Nightjohn, a slave who had escaped and gone to the north to learn how to read, but then come back to try to teach others how to read. It was illegal for slaves to try to learn, or even simply know how to read, and they would be punished for doing so, so both Sarny and Nightjohn we're taking great risks. That's one of the reasons I like this book, both Sarny and Nightjohn knew the potential trouble they could get in if they were caught, yet their desire for knowledge/education and their desire to help others outweighed that risk. Ultimately they are caught, and Nightjohn is punished by having the middle toes on both of his feet severed. Despite this, 3 days later, he makes a break for freedom is successful. He still comes back though, during the nights, to bring Sarny together with other slave children, and teach them how to read and write as well. I liked how inspiring of a character Nightjohn is; not only has he escaped slavery once, but twice, yet he is still willing to come back and risk everything for the sole purpose of teaching others, who would have no opportunity beyond him, how to read. The message of this book is that knowledge is power, and it can never be taken away from you; even if someone puts a chain around your neck and chops off your toes. This book is also about courage, determination, and standing up fr what you believe in.

Reading level 5-8 ( )
  AdamLarson | Dec 9, 2014 |
This book recounts the life of the slave, Sarny, who is a young female African American slave. She works at a plantation in 1850. She is introduced to Nightjohn, a new slave to her plantation. He teaches Sarny how to read at night, even though slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write. The master of the plantation catches Nightjohn teaching the slaves to read and write, and is severely punished. Nightjohn runs away from the plantation and then later comes back to the plantation to teach the slaves how to read.
I think that this book effectively displays the life of the slaves. The book additionally shows what the slaves went through during the 1850's.
This book would be appropriate for students grades 6th through 8th grade. It would not suit younger ages because it is graphic in nature when it recounts Nightjohn's consequences.
  Helen.Broecker | Dec 8, 2014 |
This story is about slavery in the early United States. It is about a young black girl who learns to read and write even though she is a slave. This story is a great way to tie into how slaves were treated in the US. Recommended grades for this book are 4-7. ( )
  Arron_Chelmo | Dec 7, 2014 |
Nightjohn is a historical fiction book about slavery in the U.S. It is told from the point of view of a young slave girl. She encounters Nightjohn, and she begins to learn how to read and write. A great story that is realistic and historically accurate. I think it's best for grades 2-5.
  nphernetton | Dec 6, 2014 |
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Questo libro è dedicato alla memoria di Sally Hemings, comperata, allevata e in seguito usata da Thomas Jefferson, terzo Presidente degli Stati Uniti, senza che mai potesse permettersi un solo respiro da donna libera.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440219361, Paperback)

Imagine being beaten for learning to read, shackled and whipped for learning a few letters of the alphabet. Now, imagine a man brave enough to risk torture in order to teach others how to read; his name is Nightjohn, and he sneaks into the slave camps at night to teach other slaves how to read and write. Celebrated author Gary Paulsen writes a searing meditation on why the ability to read and write is radical, empowering , and so necessary to our freedom. These skills threaten our oppressors because they allow us to communicate--to learn the real status of our slavery and to seek liberation. In this tightly written, painful, joyous little novel is a key that may unlock the power of reading for even the most reluctant teens.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:38 -0400)

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Twelve-year-old Sarny's brutal life as a slave becomes even more dangerous when a newly arrived slave offers to teach her how to read.

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