Thursday, 18 March 2021

Queen of Freedom by Catherine Johnson

Catriona Troth

What We Thought of It:

She wished she knew a way to stop time: to keep the world just as it was at that moment – the shouts of the children, the music. She would have given anything to stop the setting and rising of the sun, the moon changing.

Like Alex Wheatle’s Cane Warriors, Queen of Freedom takes the true story of a slave uprising – in this case the Maroons in Jamaica – and retells is for a young audience.

Nanny is a real historical figure – if one shadowed in mystery and legend. She was a leader of the Maroons, escaped slaves from plantations in Jamaica who set up communities in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries and successfully defended them against the British until a peace treaty was signed, allowing them to continue to live as free people. Nanny herself is credited with freeing over a thousand slaves.

The book opens with a shockingly violent incident, when Nanny and a young boy are escaping British soldiers after their community made a raid for food.

The British are outraged that their ‘property’ has been allowed to escape, and they mount ever larger military campaigns to destroy the Maroons’ communities and recapture the slaves. But the inhabitants of Nanny Town know the mountains better than the British. And Nanny knows how to exploit their fear of her as an Obeah women – someone imbued with magic. But for how long can tricks and guerrilla tactics hold the might of the British army at bay? And at what cost to Nanny herself?

A story that lays bare human cost of the demand for sugar, and shows that – a hundred years before the abolition of the slave trade – there were those who were willing to fight for and win their own freedom.

Beautifully illustrated by Amerigo Pinelli. Shortlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize for Children and Young Adults.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle, Freedom by Catherine Johnson

Avoid If You Dislike: Frank descriptions of violence

Perfect Accompaniment: Yam and callaloo

Genre: Children’s (middle reader) Historical Fiction

Buy This Book Here

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