Imprint:G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Audience:Teenage: Age (years) 12, Grade (US) 7
Dimensions:8.56in x 5.75 x 1.38 in | 1.22 lb
Page Count:448 pages
CELEBRATED WRITING DUO: Irene Latham and Charles Waters are the writing duo of the much acclaimed Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship and Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z. In starred reviews their poetry partnership has been described as brave, touching and thought-provoking. In their YA debut, they tell a powerful, untold story with important resonance for today’s readers.
HIDDEN HISTORY: Despite the town surviving to this day, the story of Africantown and its founders is not well-known. But this is changing. Anderson Cooper’s recent, much-watched special report for 60 Minutes explored the roots of this town by interviewing the descendants of the town’s founders. The descendants tell a story of resilience and hope that Charles and Irene echo in the pages of their novel shedding more light on an important and inspiring, but little known part of American history.
IMAGINATIVE, ACCESSIBLE NARRATIVE: Charles and Irene tell this story from the perspective of 14 different voices that include not only the enslaved Africans illegally brought to the United States, but the ship that brought them and their captives providing depth of perspective and a richness of the historical moment.
AWARD POTENTIAL: Charles and Irene are already school and library darlings. Teachers and librarians will be eager for their next collaboration; we have a perfect match of beloved authors and content that provides a fresh way to examine the history of enslavement.
Praise for African Town:
A 2022 NPR Books We Love Summer Reading Recommendation
A 2022 Great Reads from Great Places Reading List Pick (AL)
“African Town is a stunningly powerful and visceral novel.” —Oprah Daily
“A haunting, beautifully told history.” —NPR
★ “The authors have done a remarkable job of weaving the stories of the characters together and telling the story from both the perspective of the slaves and the people who orchestrated their purchase. Though this story is fictional it is based on a vast amount of research that was done on the actual people who participated in this story…This story will inspire readers to do some research to find out more about the real events that took place…Not to be missed.” —School Library Connection, starred review
★ “Inspired by the true story of the last American slave ship, African Town is an epic…compelling novel that doubles as an important historic document, invaluable for both classroom use and independent reading.” —Booklist, starred review
★ “African Town is a book that should be both taught and treasured.”—BookPage, starred review
★ “This gripping novel…[is] told from the perspectives of a myriad characters directly and indirectly involved in this event…where each unique voice contributes to the greater whole. Carefully executed passages appear in various forms of free verse and poetry, and each one is specific to the particular character represented. This choice makes the individual contributors not only come alive but also stand out from one another as the narrative progresses. Extensively researched and purposefully designed, this book brings together details of events from 1859 to 1901 and culminates in several pages of back matter that reinforce the entire work. VERDICT This honest, heartrending, and inspiring story is an important and necessary contribution to historical fiction collections for young adult readers.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“An ambitious verse novel told in many voices…The authors employ a range of poetic forms, resulting in an insightful, quickly paced telling that centers tradition and resilience.” —Publishers Weekly
“The highly personal stories in verse reveal the different aspects of this illegal trade and the impact on both the Black enslaved people and the White crew members…The Africans’ attempts to hold true to their home cultures and traditions—most were Yoruba—as they try to adapt to their new reality come across most powerfully. Enhanced by rich backmatter, this is a strong addition to literature about slavery.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A thoughtful portrait of how trauma informs and inhibits identity making. The end matter is a wealth of fascinating information, from the author’s note that details Waters and Lathams’ research process, to a list that elaborates on the characters’ lives, to an account of what modern day Africatown (formerly Africa Town) looks like.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books