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Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
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Nightjohn (1996)

by Gary Paulsen

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I really enjoyed this book. The main idea was about a girl named Sarny and her experience of slavery and her friend John. The book was very interesting and at some points graphic for my personal taste. Sarny was a little girl who is curious about the “white” house and learning how to read and write. John was a slave who had reached freedom, but choose to come back to teach the others how to read and write. The story had many great details describing the inhumane assaults against the slaves by Waller. For example, the story states “...she had screamed until she sounded like pigs being cut he made mammy to go to the salt house and get salt to rub it in the cuts to make more pain.” I could really imagine and feel the pain on my own skin from reading passages like this one. I also really enjoyed how the story was written. Gary Paulsen wrote the book using run on sentences and incorrect grammar. As seen in my previous quote “...made mammy to go to the salt house...” Having the story written this way allows the reader to connect to the Sarny and the lifestyle she is experiencing. This book is a great read and I would recommend it to everyone. ( )
  kfrey4 | Apr 13, 2015 |
First I chose this book because one of my fellow classmates talked Gary Paulsen up as an author so much, I felt the need to read one of his books. I enjoyed this book because the story was told from the perspective of a young slave girl, named Sarny, who is quickly approaching puberty. Once she reaches puberty her role and "dutites" as a slave would change significantly. Sarny makes friends with a man named Nightjohn. Nightjohn is 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. I liked that both Sarny and Nightjohn knew the potential trouble they could get in for learning to read, if they were caught. But their desire for knowledge and to help others outweighed the consequences of the risk. I loved Nighjohn’s character he is so inspiring and strong. Nightjohn has escaped slavery twice, but he returns for the sole purpose of teaching others how to read. The message of this book is that knowledge is power, and it can never be taken away from you, no matter what others do to you. This book shows the reader what true courage and determination is. ( )
  corzel1 | Mar 31, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book mainly because I'm a big Gary Paulsen fan, but I loved how Paulsen developed his character Nightjohn. With this truly inspiring story, Paulsen explains how NIghtjohn escaped slavery but twiceand came back to risk everything for the sole purpose of teaching others. I also felt that the message of this book is extremely relevant to anyone with an appreciation for academics and their importance in life. Knowledge is power, and it can never be taken away from you; Paulsen explains that no matter what happens to you physically or emotionally, you will always have what you know to lean on for the rest of your days. ( )
  ajohns75 | Mar 26, 2015 |
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 |
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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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