Amos Fortune, Free Man

Amos Fortune, Free ManI picked up this book because it won the Newbery medal in 1951 In addition, I was pleased to see that the story is based on the life of a real person And he was sold at a slave market in Boston So many books about slavery are set on plantations in the South that it s easy to forget that there were also slaves in the North.I see that quite a few readers aren t happy with this presentation of an African American who lived in Massachusetts in the late 1700s I don t see a problem with it I would be happy to have the kids read this story Here, we are introduced to a man who is wise, kind, hard working, and respected The picture of slavery is not wretched nor is it pleasant The young reader learns how people were brutally torn from the families and homes, how they suffered physical and mental agony in the ships across the ocean, and how they were sold at auction to whites with the money in hand Then they became someone s property, a slave to the owner s demands No man wanted to be a slave Cruel treatment was always a possibility e.g., the poor girl whose legs were broken because she attempted to escape But this is a book for kids, ages 9 to 12 perhaps They do not need to hear all of black history in one slim volume This does an admirable job of introducing many aspects of an ugly chapter in not only American history, but also in the history of the world.This book was called a biography Maybe today we d call it historical fiction After reading this, kids just might turn to the internet to see what can be learned about Mr Fortune. This is an exceptional juvenile biography, told as a historical fiction narrative Elizabeth Yates is a sympathetic and caring author, and brings these qualities to the sad yet inspiring story of Amos Fortune, an African prince sold into slavery at age fifteen who spent the next forty five years working for various slave owners, trying to purchase his own freedom and, eventually, the freedom of others Amos s goal was to one day find his younger sister, who was also sold as a slave, and this strong, resourceful man would move mountains to achieve that goal Amos Fortune, Free Man is a powerful and moving story No other author could have written it better that Elizabeth Yates We are lucky to have this book. A Newbery Medal WinnerWhen Amos Fortune Was Only Fifteen Years Old, He Was Captured By Slave Traders And Brought To Massachusetts, Where He Was Sold At Auction Although His Freedom Had Been Taken, Amos Never Lost His Dinity And Courage For Years, Amos Worked As A Slave And Dreamed Of Freedom And, At Age , He Finally Began To See Those Dreams Come True The Moving Story Of A Life Dedicated To The Fight For Freedom Booklist I had grave misgivings before I began reading this book It won the Newbery Award, yes, but it won in 1951, and it s a book about a black man written by a white woman In 1950 That s enough to give me a bit of a pause entering into the reading experience.On the whole, the book was not as racially insensitive as I thought it would be That doesn t mean that it s a shining example of careful research and subtle characterization, just that it s not as bad as it could have been It s interesting to me that being free is such an integral part of who Amos Fortune is, and is clearly one of his most vividly held beliefs, and yet slavery is generally shown to be not that bad All of the slaves in the book want to be free But when his original owners, who were going to free hi offer him freedom, he denies it because he s not ready And later when the male owner dies and his widow and child sell Amos on the auction block to pay off their debts, Amos is not upset about this because he knows that it is his duty to help out his friends in paying the debts Um, I m sorry, but when your friends consider it perfectly acceptable to put you up on the auction block, a humiliating experience that could possibly result in physical and mental danger depending on who buys you, that is not friendship That is not doing your duty That is one set of people who have not been able to reach out a true hand of friendship and therefore still see you as chattel when push comes to shove and the good times end Amos should have felt betrayed Even if he understood why they felt they had to sell him, he should have felt something than just cheerful to do his part.Because the book spans nearly one hundred years, I had a hard time connecting to the emotional life of Amos Each chapter covers a decade or in his life, leaving very little time to truly feel the impact of any one decision or life event The only major incident that is brought up throughout the book as a painful memory is Amos s sister Ath Mun And that memory made me angry, because it was so obvious that he was being incredibly idiotic about his continued search for a 12 year old girl That a man as smart as Amos spent decades looking for his little sister before realized suddenly that she would no longer be 12 seemed unrealistic.This is supposedly a biography, but it falls into the category only vaguely It would not be published as such today It lacks any sort of bibliography or resources to indicate how the author did her research It also takes liberties, with the narrator claiming to understand what Amos was thinking or feeling, when there is no way to really know that This was common in children s biographies of decades past Carry On, Mr Bowditch, also a Newbery winner from the 50 s, is written in a very similar vein Actually, that book covers a very similar time period, though from a completely perspective Both books are about men who worked hard to make something of themselves though, which is interesting but it s still frustrating to me as a modern reader who would like something.The overt Christianity in the book annoyed me a bit too Amos s people are pagan at the beginning of the book, but it s made clear that they re the good kind of pagan that even though they aren t Christian don t resort to wanton violence That s patronizing There s a fine line between a character believing strongly that his good fortunes are from God and that his misfortunes are God testing him, and the author signaling that that is clearly her worldview and all else must therefore spring from it This book goes over the line.With all of that criticism, there were still some good aspects Although I found bits of the book patronizing, or misrepresentative, or otherwise flawed, I could see that the author was trying to show that African Americans were equal in intelligence and ambition to every other type of American, and for 1950 just the fact that she was trying counts for a lot I m not entirely certain what the committee saw in the book I don t think the themes were necessarily carefully expressed throughout the book Amos loves freedom, but isn t upset when it is denied to him, twice, by owners who are supposed to care The characters go through so much of their lives that they are not terribly well drawn, glimpses into their lives The setting is well done, I ll give them that. Okay, Amos Fortune. This book is based on the true story of a fifteen year old boy who was captured by slave traders in Africa and brought to New England in the early 1700s Not much is known about the real Amos Fortune, so this book is not a biography The author made most of it up We do know that when Amos was in his 60s, he bought his freedom, started a tanning business, and made enough money to buy land for his family and freedom for other slaves He eventually grew influential enough to become a well respected leader in his town.This book was written for children, but it s different from most children s books because Amos is an adult for most of the story I like that Since Amos is a slave for a lot of his existence, he doesn t really get to live until he s in his 60s He has to wait that long to buy a house and start a business His story shows you re never too old to completely change your life.I was impressed with Amos s kindness Even as a slave with limited resources, he always tries to do what s right As a young man, he goes to the docks to search slave auctions for his sister When he gets older and starts making money, he saves for years to buy freedom for his friends He s always thinking of ways to do the most good with what he has He said little about his dream but he nourished it in his heart as the best place for a dream to grow This novel is extremely heavy handed with the Christianity I suspect it s the author s own beliefs coming through, but it didn t bother me very much because the real Amos Fortune was a Christian who left a lot of his fortune to a church after he died I like that the book reflects the religious part of his life Still, I know many readers get irritated when they want a story and get a sermon instead The book gets very preachy at times.What did bother me is Amos s naivety He s able to learn English and a bunch of different household and job tasks, but he doesn t understand that his sister won t stay 12 years old forever That doesn t seem realistic.Sometimes when I read Newbery winners, I wonder what the award committee was thinking Some of the winners are bland Unfortunately, that was the case with this one The events of Amos s life feel shallow and watered down I think that s because the book covers 91 years in 192 pages There isn t room for depth Everything is glossed over Amos falls in love three times, but the reader learns nothing about the women or why he loves them The important women in Amos s life just appear and then disappear a few pages later You can tell that this book was written for white readers in the 1950s The black characters except Amos are underdeveloped, and the white characters are savior types who do everything for Amos except give him his freedom Amos s thoughts and emotions about being a slave are mostly ignored I found that disappointing.So, I didn t love this one I like my books to have depth.Do you like opinions, giveaways, and bookish nonsense I have a blog for that. There is precious little information about the man who became Amos Fortune and I would not send anyone to this book trying to find any As a novel, however, it is very affecting I m sure research was done into the slave trade to get background information, but if Fortune left no written record himself of his youth, then that part of the narrative is so much marsh gas If he had been just a villager, rather than a king s son, where would his nobility have come from He has to fall far It isn t enough just to be captured, maltreated, and sent across the ocean to be a slave He has to be a king s son And he has to spend his life searching for his lame sister which eventually leads him to buy a lame slave and marry her This is sick , who was quite logically rejected by the slavers Once you get past the actual slave traders, the majority of the white people Fortune is in contact with are plaster saints and none of them give him his freedom. There are exceptions there is the constable who tells the family to move on, but it is implied he s only paying lip service to the regulation and he ends up being helpful The one realistic white man won t pay Fortune the agreed price and makes him pick up the coins from the ground This book is a fairy tale to make white people feel better It is a book of its time period 1950 , a novel rather than a biography, insulting, pandering, and yet it still brought tears to my eyes. Informative and inspiring Although I greatly admired Amos Fortune in Elizabeth Yates s 1951 biographical novel, it was his love for a mountain in his later years with which I connected the most.A former African prince, At mun was abducted by slave traders in 1710, after they destroyed his village and murdered his father He endured great suffering during his captivity and journey to Boston, but knowing that he was of royal lineage, he endured his ordeal stoically, wanting to give hope to those captured with him He kept that sense of responsibility for others during his whole life.Amos, as his name became, earned his last name Fortune since he had the very, very good luck of being owned by kind masters for the almost fifty years that he was enslaved He learned to read, was taught and embraced Christianity, and then mastered the tanning trade Eventually, Amos was given his freedom He never stopped trying to help fellow slaves earn theirs, and his efforts to do so brought him to Jaffrey, New Hampshire in the late 1700 s There, he came to love Mount Monadnock, which became a source of strength and consolation as he aged Fortune s life was certainly still difficult, but he continued to support and provide for those he loved Through his inspiring integrity and the skills he learned, he earned the respect of not only his family and friends, but also many areas of New Hampshire as well I recommend this biography for early middle schoolers Although the slavery scenes are not as graphic as some, they depict the horror of captivity, the great sadness from lack of freedom, and the joy Amos experienced when freedom was finally again his The comfort Amos receives from nature is sweet to hear and to nurture in young readers Amos has his mountain, which he scales to its peak even in his seventies I, too, have hiked that mountain in New Hampshire, and was impressed by his climb Children who have nature close to them are lucky indeed, and the book underscores that fact.Reading Amos Fortune also reminds me how wonderful connecting to a book can be Fortune s story is one of endurance and triumph over adversity I would honor him just from reading Yates s research the personal connection to that grand mountain in New Hampshire makes him even memorable Hate could do that to a man, Amos thought, consume him and leave him smoldering But he was a free man, and free at a great cost, and he would not put himself in bondage again Here is a story not to be missed, of a young teenage boy in Africa, son of a chief and tribal leader, who is kidnapped by slavers and brought to America Educated by Quakers and offered his freedom, Amos possesses both an extraordinary spirit as well as a penchant for learning his trade well His tenderness for his young, handicapped sister, and the memory of how he would want to see her cared for, prove to be the gateway for freedom for other suffering Africans, as he buys their freedom with the money earned by his skill of tanning leather It was Ath mun who had been the fount of freedom to those others, Amos thought, as he reached back into memory for the beloved sister As terrible as it was to read of African tribal slavery, the horrors of the transatlantic voyage, and the mistreatment of blacks in America, the most incredible part of this story is its picture of redemption Suffering such cruelty and injustice that he did, Amos could easily have become embittered, even murderous in his spirit But like Joseph in prison, he did not forget his identity as a king the son of a chief in Africa and as he read the Bible, he realized now he was a king unto the Lord Rev 1 6 There were times I had to set this book down to cry I could not believe how blessed I ve been in my life compared to some, and how shameful it is ever to complain But the best part of this powerful, true story is that one day, I will get to meet Amos. Read with mother and younger siblings for school and a couple years before that, also for school I didn t love it, but I didn t hate it.I found some of Amos s ideas a little silly such as finding his sister, whom he assumed would be the same age as she had been when he last saw her no matter how many years past That was just annoying He was also a pushover sometimes I think perhaps that had a little to do with the way people during the time of this book perceived African Americans , perhaps, but it could just be his personality, in my opinion.I ve read that some people think this book was very racist I don t think it was that bad Even so, you do have to take in account the year it was written the time it was written about.Also, as with many children s history books of the day, there were tons and tons of huuuuge timeskips and each chapter covered literal decades of Amos s life Just not a fan of this style.Thanks for reading, Kellyn Roth

Elizabeth Yates, author of over forty books for children, was born in New York State on December 6th, 1905 Determined to be an author, she moved to New York City to launch her career She worked a variety of jobs including reviewing book, writing short stories, and doing research She moved to England with her husband and wrote her first book, High Holiday, based on her travels in Switzerland wit

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  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
  • Elizabeth Yates
  • English
  • 24 April 2019
  • 9780140341584

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