Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Review: Birchtown and the Black Loyalists
Publish March 19, 2015
For centuries men, women, and children were stolen from their villages in Africa, taken to the Americas and enslaved. Until the Revolutionary War in 1775, freedom from slavery in North America was nothing more than a dream. But the war offered an opportunity. If they fought for the British, slaves were promised freedom, land and supplies. Called the Black Loyalists, they fought bravely, not only for Britain, but also for their futures.
Wanda Lauren Taylor’s Birchtown and the Black Loyalists explores the history of the nearly 5000 slaves who immigrated to Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary War, holding tightly to their Certificates of Freedom and the hope of a better life. Taylor traces the trail of broken promises, ongoing prejudice, and physical hardships that the Black Loyalists endured as they built Birchtown, one of the largest settlements of free Blacks in North America. Using photographs, maps, drawings, and personal stories, she paints a detailed and empathetic picture of the times. Many insets and sidebars add depth to the story and the book includes a detailed Table of Contents, timeline, glossary, and recommended reading for further study.
Birchtown and the Black Loyalists is an excellent book for libraries and a useful tool for school projects. Although aimed at young readers, it also provides fascinating historical background for adult fans of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes. Writing about an uncomfortable period in Canadian history is difficult but necessary, and Taylor has done a fine job of presenting the facts. Those who are inspired by the information may wish to visit (in person or virtually) the newly constructed Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown Bay, Nova Scotia, when it opens on May 1, 2015.
Wanda Lauren Taylor
ISBN 13: 978-1-77108-166-5
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