- Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger
“It is hard to imagine, harder to remember,” says Magulu—also known as Margru and later as Sarah Kinson—of the time that her father was forced to pawn her to slave traders to continue to feed his family. Edinger fictionalizes this account of a girl who was aboard the Amistad, the ship that was the site of a slave rebellion in 1839, and traces her life from Mendeland in West Africa, through her account of the revolt, to her life in America during and after the trial to decide whether the children aboard would remain free, and then to her return to Africa as a teacher. The prose is taut, and Magulu has a friendly voice, while Byrd’s sprightly, delicately lined ink and watercolor illustrations are filled with deep visual detail. A few archival document reproductions are interspersed, captioned in Magulu’s voice, adding to the sense that readers are having a conversation with the past. Edinger glosses over the horrors of the Middle Passage, instead focusing on Magulu’s wonder at the unfamiliar things around her, but a general understanding of the slave trade is necessary to contextualize the voyage of the Amistad. This would therefore make a useful brief fictional complement to Myers’ Amistad: A Long Road to Freedom (BCCB 5/98) or an addition to an historical study of the history of slavery; it’s also a solid narrative choice to hand to a biography junkie. An author’s note explaining what’s fictional and what’s not, a bibliography for further reading, and source notes for photographs are included.