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 Taylors 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 Hills 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.

 

Birchtown and the Black Loyalists

Wanda Lauren Taylor
Nimbus Publishing
ISBN 13: 978-1-77108-166-5

Penny Draper
Penny Draper Penny Draper lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She is the author of the award-winning “Disaster Strikes!” series, historical fiction that places young protagonists at the centre of real Canadian disasters.

The National Reading Campaign publishes children's book reviews under a Creative Commons License. This review is entirely free to reproduce and republish online and in print. Credit must be given to the reviewer and the National Reading Campaign. Reviews can be edited for brevity only. Contact Us for more information.