One of the arcs I picked up at ALA Midwinter in January was this
My Name is Not Friday by Jon Walter, is the tale of a Samuel, born in freedom, but, by a twist of fate is kidnapped and sold into slavery, just as the Civil War is ending.
Goodreads Summary: ‘This boy has bought me. This white boy who don’t even look as old as I am. He owns me body and soul and my worth has been set at six hundred dollars.’
Samuel’s an educated boy. Been taught by a priest. He was never supposed to be a slave.
He’s a good boy too, thoughtful and kind. The type of boy who’d take the blame for something he didn’t do if it meant he saved his brother. So now they don’t call him Samuel. Not anymore. And the sound of guns is getting ever closer…
An extraordinary tale of endurance and hope, Jon Walter’s second novel is a beautiful and moving story about the power of belief and the strength of the human spirit, set against the terrifying backdrop of the American Civil War.
This is great read for middle grade kids for a number of reasons. First, it tackles slavery and, though it doesn’t show the worst aspects, it shows many horrible aspects of it. It shows the power of reading and the power of faith without being preachy. I will say that the opening, which begins with a blind-folded Samuel being carried off to be sold into slavery, is a little confusing. Walter opens with a classic “start in the middle” strategy that might turn off a reader. Once they are in through, readers will find Samuel a reliable narrator and a good friend.