By Author / Illustrator
Catherine Johnson, Rachel Sanson
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Paperback / softback
An exciting adventure set in revolutionary France which tells the true story of a swashbuckling hero Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, whose mother was an enslaved African woman and whose father was a French noble. Alex is happy living with his brothers and sister on his father's farm on Haiti but his father wants to go back to France and can't afford to take his mixed-race children with him. Soon, Alex must fight for his freedom... and that of France.
From a slave on the streets of Port au Prince to a general in the French army, the dramatic true story of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas' life (the inspiration for his son's book The Three Musketeers) is brought to life by award-winning author, Catherine Johnson.
Featuring exciting black-and-white illustrations by Rachel Sanson, this book is perfect for children who are developing as readers. The Bloomsbury Readers series is packed with brilliant books to get children reading independently in Key Stage 2, with book-banded stories by award-winning authors like double Carnegie Medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean and Waterstones Prize winner Patrice Lawrence, covering a wide range of genres and topics. With charming illustrations and online guided reading notes written by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), this series is ideal for reading both in the classroom and at home. For more information visit www.bloomsburyguidedreading.com. Book Band: Dark Red Ideal for ages 10+
Although I am not one for regularly reading colour-banded books, this historical novel makes a great short read for anyone, reluctant young reader or adult alike. To Liberty! The Adventures of Thomas- Alexandre Dumas by Catherine Johnson, tells the life story of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, who was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to a French nobleman, and Marie-Cessette Dumas, a black slave. At age 14, Thomas-Alexandre was taken by his father to France, where he was educated in a military academy and entered the military for what became an illustrious career.
Written in clear, concise language, this dark red banded book is action packed, and at a time when most news articles are concerned with equal rights for all, this makes it the ideal book for any classroom or home bookshelf. To Liberty! provides an account of Thomas's life, the impact of slavery, racial inequality and his fight for freedom, for himself and his country.
Although many KS2 readers are reluctant to be seen reading colour-banded books, this is most definitely a 'real book'. With short chapters and supported by detailed black and white illustrations by Rachel Sanson, this is an ideal read for a child who perhaps prefers fact to fiction. I can't wait to get back to school in September to share this with my class.
96 pages / Reviewed by Samantha Phillips, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+