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Children's Literature Reviews
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Caesar's story, 1759
Joan Lowery Nixon.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
Sample text
New York : Delacorte Press , 2000.
165 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.


"Colonial Williamsburg."
After having been a slave on Carter's Grove plantation near Williamsburg, Virginia, since childhood, Caesar finally finds a way to plan his own future.

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.1
Accelerated Reader Points 4

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 690

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 3-5
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 7
Lexile Measure 690


John Peters (Booklist, June 1 & 15, 2000 (Vol. 96, No. 19 & 20))
With this novel, Nixon kicks off the Young Americans Colonial Williamsburg series of short historical novels set in or near Williamsburg, Virginia, and featuring actual people of the time and carefully reconstructed period detail. Nine-year-old Caesar learns what it means to be a slave when he's sent up to the Big House as personal servant to Nat, once a playmate, now the plantation's heir-in-training. Caesar's adjustment is a difficult one, not only because he is suddenly cut off from his family, but because of the constant tension between the boys, who are both struggling to fit into their assigned roles. Nixon artfully illuminates both the social fabric and the simmering political situation of the times, and brings Caesar at last to the understanding that if he can't change the system, or escape it, he can find his niche without allowing his condition to dampen his inner spirit. As with many recent historical fiction series, period detail is made vivid by enhancements, in this case, a street map, a recipe, black-and-white photos of historical reconstructions, and substantial afterwords by Nixon and the staff of Colonial Williamsburg. Category: Middle Readers. 2000, Random, $9.95. Gr. 4-6.

Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature)
Your family can journey back in place and time by visiting Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia, about a three-hour drive from Washington, D.C. Kids curious about mid-18th century life in this former Virginia capitol will relish historical fiction by Joan Lowery Nixon. Part of the carefully researched "Young Americans" series, Ann's Story: 1747 and Caesar's Story: 1759, are based on the lives of two young people who lived during that time and include interesting author's notes about medicine, childhood, and slavery. Ann MacKenzie was the daughter of an apothecary (a druggist-doctor) and Caesar was a nine-year-old slave. 2000, Delacorte, $9.95. Ages 8 to 12.

Leslie Verzi Julian (Children's Literature)
Mrs. Otts, a tour guide in present-day Williamsburg, is an excellent storyteller. A group of young people gather to hear her telling of the story of Caesar, a young slave in the 1700s. This opening format provides excellent factual background. Up until he is seven years old, Caesar, the son of slaves, is best friends with Nat, the son of slave owners. Sadly, at seven they are both told that "the past is over." They are to face the responsibilities which come with their differences in position. This, along with the new back-breaking work, disheartens Caesar. He longs to be free. Even more devastating is the newest change; Caesar's father, a gifted carpenter, is hired out to work for a cabinetmaker far away in Williamsburg. With his mother and sister working in the fields and his older sister working in the big house, Caesar tries to fill his father's shoes by attempting to catch opossum and fish to supplement the family's meager rations. Just growing used to this position, Caesar is again shocked when he learns that his former best friend, Nat, now the owner in training, has chosen Caesar as his personal servant in the big house--away from his mother and sister. "He felt like a dried leaf, blowing in the wind, unable to even choose where to land." He wondered if his life would always be like this. An older slave had once told Caesar, "In this life everybody must make his own place." Here, under Master Nathaniel, Caesar will learn what it means to grow up and to hold onto that light inside himself called spirit--no matter what. The narrative is followed by an intriguing account of the research used to construct the story. There is also a history of Williamsburg, The Revolutionary War, Modern Williamsburg, Childhood in 18th Century Virginia, and Slavery in Colonial Virginia. For those who want a taste of authentic colonial food, a recipe for bean hominy is even included. This is an excellent book for both home and school. 2000, Delacorte Press, $9.95. Ages 10 to 14.


Young Americans


Slavery Fiction.
Williamsburg (Va.)--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 Juvenile fiction.
Williamsburg (Va.)--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.N65 Caf 2000
99054862 [Fic]
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