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Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen

Nightjohn (original 1996; edition 1995)

by Gary Paulsen

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9239414,399 (4.15)19
Authors:Gary Paulsen
Info:Laurel Leaf (1995), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library

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Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen (1996)



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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
There are a few reasons why I like this book and a few reasons why I don’t. Some of the reasons go hand-in-hand with each other. One reason why I like this book is because of the language. The book is written in African American English and it really enhances the experience of reading the book. A few examples are “There be a girl before then named Alice,” “But they be rich, and the be spending a lot of money and they brought in the new hand for a thousand dollars. And that be Nightjohn,” and “Two days and he be gone, and he come back and make a storm around the place so we all know John he made it.” The language used to tell the story makes me think about how differently slaves spoke and how it still impacts the African American community to this day. Although I did like how the story was written in African-American English, I didn’t like how it was difficult for me to read at some points. It took me a few times to figure out what Sarny was saying. Another reason I liked this story was because Sarny told the story herself. I didn’t like the story because I also wanted to hear others’ experiences. For example, it would’ve been nice to hear Nightjohn telling his parts of the story too sometimes. Another reason why I liked this book was because it was very descriptive and detailed with events. The details really enhanced the story and made me emotional. For example, when the text states, “The master set the dogs on him and they tore and ripped what they could reach until there wasn’t any meat on Jim’s legs or bottom. The dogs ripped it all off, to hang in shreds.” This is very vivid, and I can picture this happening in my head. Another example is “The master tied him down and cut him like he did the cattle so he wouldn’t run to girls no more, but the cut went wrong and Pawley he laid all night and bled to death without every making a sound in the corner of the quarters.” This example is also very vivid and makes me cringe. The last example that’s very descriptive is when the book says, “He hit her with is fist. Then he unhooked her from the chains and ripped her clothes from off her body and dragged her naked to the harness.” All of these explicit events enhance the action of the story. Although these events make the story better, they make me sad. The reason I didn’t like how descriptive the events were because it disgusts me how African Americans were treated. I guess it’s good to know the reality, but it breaks my heart. Also, after I thought about it, I guess the words in the book are nothing compared to the real face-to-face experiences that Sarny had. One reason I didn’t like the book was because of the way it ended. I wanted to keep reading, I wanted to know more! The book ended with Nightjohn and Sarny teaching the other slaves together how to read. I want to know if they ever got caught? I wonder if Nightjohn ever ran away from the plantations to go to the free states again? I wonder if other slaves got caught. Did Sarny teach the slaves on her plantation how to read and write? I did like that at the end of the book it gave a preview of the companion novel, Sarny. I guess I could read that book and maybe it will answer some of my questions that I still have. Overall, I liked the book because I think that Nightjohn pushes readers to think about tough issues. The book is a real experience and can help people understand how slaves were treated and why African-American English is used in society today. It’s crazy to know how long ago the story takes place, and then seeing how reading and writing still effects society today. I think the overall message of the book was if you want something, fight for it. Sarny and Nightjohn both fought for what they wanted and found a way to get it. ( )
  CarliWeaver | Oct 30, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book for two reasons. The first reason being the characters. Although many are mentioned, the author focuses on two main characters. Sarny and John develop an amazing relationship throughout the story, as John ultimately is responsible for teaching Sarny to read and write. I thought both of these characters were extremely well developed. For example, as the story went on, I learned more about Sarny's life as a slave and how NightJohn was able to bring light into her life that may never have existed if she never had the opportunity to attend school. Secondly, I loved how this book pushes the reader to broaden their perspective on slavery. The language was very descriptive and allows readers to put themselves in shoes of those who were slaves. These are tough issues, but very important for people to be educated on them.

Being Historical Fiction, this book does an amazing job of opening a window for readers to experience what it would have been like to be in captivity as slaves were in American History. The characters speak in broken English which is very appropriate for the time period. Slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or write, so standard English was not spoken. The setting, taking place on a farm was very accurate. This specific story allows readers to understand different perspectives. For example, I was able to put myself into the characters shoes and imagine what pain and agony slaves must have suffered during this time. The overall message for the reader to take away is if you want something go for it. Although some goals seem impossible, there is always a way to achieve them. In the story, Sarny wanted to learn how to read and write. She was able to find a way to learn even though it was against the law. ( )
  LaurieIrons | Oct 29, 2018 |
I like this book because it the style of writing fits the voice of the narrator. Sarny is unable to read or write, so her English is not perfect. The way Sarny talks in the narration shows her struggle off English. For example, to introduce herself she says, "I'm Sarny and the other part of my name be the same as old Waller who wants to be master but is nothing." Another example is when she says, "Come a hard time then. Come a awful hard time." The book is also well organized. Sarny learns the alphabet by each letter from A and so on. The main message in the book is to inform readers about the mistreatment of African Americans and how they continued to survive and learn despite it all. ( )
  SarahLansinger | Oct 29, 2018 |
it showed passion the main character has for teaching reading and writing to children that were born into slavery. He sacrificed his freedom because he knew the importance of the skills for the future of these children and for the future of African Americans. Language was true to the characters as it was AAE but it was very descriptive in it's depiction of the slave owner treatment of the slaves. Both the children and the teachers character evolved throughout the story and they beat all the odds and became highly educated. The theme of the book is to always follow your passion regardless of the many obstacles that may block your path. ( )
  BrianMarston | Apr 16, 2018 |
I enjoyed reading this book because of the language used and how the characters were developed in the story. Their perseverance under the circumstance was remarkable! For example, when they were learning about reading, Nightjohn told them, “’Cause to know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. ”He wanted them to read even if that meant getting his fingers cut. He risked so much, even his freedom for the passion he had for teaching reading. I enjoyed seeing how he developed as a character and all the risks he took throughout the book. Also, the language was true to the story. African American English was apparent in the dialogue. For example, when Nightjohn was talking to mammy about teaching Sarny how to read, he said, “Not like you think,” instead of saying, “It is not what you think.” This is just one of a few quotes that is an example of African American English. It was hard to read the descriptive abuses the characters faced but overall it was a good book to read because of the main idea. It is important to persevere through anything, especially if you are passionate about it. ( )
  AmyRivas | Apr 13, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gary Paulsenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pinkney, JerryIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:59 -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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