A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia 1859 (Dear America Series)

by Patricia C. McKissack

Hardcover, 1997


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Call number

J DA 1859 VA


Scholastic Inc. (1997), Edition: Library Binding, Hardcover, 202 pages


In 1859 twelve-year-old Clotee, a house slave who must conceal the fact that she can read and write, records in her diary her experiences and her struggle to decide whether to escape to freedom.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member acwheeler
In 1859, Clotee knows firsthand the horrible conditions slaves endure. She has secretly taught herself to read and write, but must keep it a secret, as slaves are forbidden to have such knowledge. Clotte eventually becomes a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping other slaves to freedom and
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must decide whether she will plan her own escape. This is a very true and interesting story. I definitely recommend this chapter book for students to read.
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LibraryThing member Heather19
Although I had most of the books in this series at one point, this was my favorite by far, and it's the only one I've kept.
LibraryThing member sgerbic
Reviewed August 2005

Another excellent history diary, I wish I had these kinds of books when I was young, I would have had so much more knowledge by now. I would highly recommend these books to anyone needing historical knowledge, once they have this "first-hand" background they would be able to
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follow up with more serious reading. This book focuses on the life of the slaves at their masters at Belmont Plantation, Virgina in 1859. As usual the author weaves real historical events into the day to day events. As the slave girl learns about freedom and the word around her the reader also learns. Though this is a children's book, I felt that there was an overwhelming amount of violence included. Of course violence was inherent in this society but here it is very graphic. At least the near rape of Spicy and the half white half black children were mentioned but not explained. Surly the violence and disrespect a slave encountered varied with the different masters. It must have taken amazing will power to not lash out at your master, only total conditioning must have been present.

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LibraryThing member MelAKnee
Clotee lost her mama when she was very young. Her mama was sold by her master. As was with most slave families, the mother was not allowed to take her baby with her. Instead, Clotee was left to live on the Hently plantation with Aunt Tee, Uncle Heb, and the rest of the slaves. Her main job is to
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fan the mistress of the house, Miz Lilly, and her son while Miz Lilly gives William his lessons. What Miz Lilly fails to realize is that while she tutors her son, Clotee is also learning by looking over their shoulders. Clotee starts to keep a diary of life on the plantation and her hopes and dreams of a world she can barely pronounce; abolition.
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LibraryThing member Scuttle2003
I was very caught in to this story and thought that it was very descriptive about the live of a slave girl named clotee's life, her time period, and her thoughts about the changing world all around her. Being the time period that it was, slavery was still going on in clotee's world, and nowadays
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it's hard to imagine what life would be like if you were a slave who knew how to read and write, and this elaborate story helped me to picture that. I really felt like I was in clotee's world while reading this book.
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LibraryThing member rata
fantastic, this book had me engaged from the start to finish. very informative about the slavery trade and the atrocities that happened; makes you grateful that this practice of abuse to other humans is no longer allowed. Very sad in some parts and hard to believe that people treated other people
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in this way. This book encourages you to research into slavery.
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LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
I don't remember much of these books as individual books, but I remember reading them all as a young, avid reader. I think that ultimately these books are the reason why I love historical fiction novels so much. They all did such a great job of taking me to a different time and place and making it
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come alive, seeing the world through an older, historical lens. I highly recommend any of the Dear America books to younger readers who love history and need to get hooked on reading!
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
Overall this was an engaging book. It was hard to get a sense of Clotee's age. Having heard this as an audiobook, I may have misunderstood that she was 7 years old (explains why her job was fanning). Some of her thoughts and actions seem much older. The fact that it was a diary made me imagine some
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descendant finding her journal and connecting with this history.
The author's use of the 'picture' analogy seemed a little heavy handed: the number of times Clotee talks about not being able to picture freedom. This might be relevant for someone who is very visually oriented, but it implies that one cannot imagine abstract concepts.
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Original publication date


Physical description

202 p.; 7.7 inches


0590259881 / 9780590259880



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