Journey BACK to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story by Catherine Johnson with illustrations by Katie Hickey
Inspired by Equiano’s own autobiography this meticulously researched and balanced narrative non-fiction book will promote thoughtful discussion in the classroom and beyond. Catherine Johnson focuses on Olaudah Equiano’s early life and telling the story from his own perspective provides true insights into the dreadful injustices of the slave trade and the shocking prejudice of the time.
We first meet Equiano in his childhood home of what is now Nigeria in 1745 and Johnson does not shy away from portraying the horror of his capture and subsequent voyage to Barbados. The reader then follows the young boy through his early life and the ten years he spent at sea witnessing his burning determination to one day be free. It is a story of resilience and told in a gripping adventure that will engage readers and also enlighten them.
Catherine Johnson provides a detailed afterword to the story through which we learn of Olaudah Equiano’s later life once he gained his freedom. He was, as the author says ‘a tricky character’ however he was a man instrumental in the first attempts to fight for the abolition of slavery and his story deserves to be more well known. This informative book may well encourage young readers to find out more about the man himself.
The writing is accessible to a wide range of readers being edited to a reading age of 8 and being presented in a dyslexia friendly ‘super readable’ style. Journey Back to Freedom is marketed as suitable for 9+ but some of the content may be upsetting for sensitive readers of this age.
You may be interested in Race to the Frozen North also by Catherine Johnson for Barrington Stoke which tells the story of the inspirational Black explorer, Matthew Henson.
You can read the first chapter of Journey Back to Freedom courtesy of the publishers below:
Everest Reaching the Roof of the World by David Long illustrated by Stefano Tambellini
Award-winning non-fiction author David Long turns his attention to the world’s highest mountain and the dangerous early expeditions to conquer it in this, his fourth title for Barrington Stoke. I thought I knew quite a bit about these famous attempts but have learned a great deal more through reading this enjoyable and enthralling book.
We are first introduced to this majestic peak and its religious significance to local people being known as “Goddess Mother of the World” or the “Peak of Heaven” and its first identification as the highest mountain in the world. The reader then learns about the many dangers early climbers faced when attempting the daunting challenge of reaching its summit. Repeatedly the expeditions failed due to inclement weather, the risks of altitude sickness and avalanche alongside the dangers of the climb itself. The descriptions of the various expeditions and of the men involved, notably Colonel John Hunt, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary bring the events to life and the scale of the organisation required was daunting.
David Long’s writing style, familiar now from his earlier books for this publisher, is engaging and conversational in tone but crammed full of interesting detail. Stefano Tambellini’s clear illustrations, maps and diagrams add to the reader’s understanding and this book is an appealing package. Barrington Stoke have also produced some helpful writing prompts linked to the book that can be downloaded here.
If this book appeals you may also be interested in this duo’s other books for Barrington Stoke too: Survival In Space: The Apollo 13 Mission, Tragedy at Sea: The Sinking of The Titanic, and Tutankhamen’s Treasure.
You can read the first chapter of Everest Reaching the Roof of the World below:
I should like to thank Barrington Stoke for providing my review copies and both books were published on 1st September.