Reviews for Black Regiment of the American Revolution


Booklist Reviews 2004 October #2
Gr. 4-6. By now most Americans' mental image of Civil War battlefields has been revised to include black faces, but the same isn't yet true when it comes to the Revolutionary War. Brennan attempts to remedy this by introducing young readers to Rhode Island's "Black Regiment," made up primarily of slaves who fought not only for American independence but also for their own freedom--as promised by a state legislature desperate to shore up exhausted troops. The book's 32 pages and large, somewhat stiff watercolor illustrations suggest a target audience of early-elementary readers, but the type size is surprisingly tiny and the text quite lengthy. Book-talking may be necessary to get this into the hands of readers best equipped to handle it. Maps and sidebars lend added clarity to the main narrative; source notes would have made this obviously well-researched volume an even more valueable addition to the history shelves. ((Reviewed October 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2004 November/December
The role of African-Americans in United States' military history is not well known. Stories about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen, who fought in World War II, are becoming more familiar, as are others about the blacks who fought in the Civil War. The picture becomes more complete with this dramatic account of a black regiment, mostly composed of slaves, who bravely held back the British and Hessians during a major battle of the American Revolutionary War. This unusual regiment was organized because exhausted white enlisted soldiers from Rhode Island, a tiny New England slave state, were returning home, and an effective force was needed to replace them. General James Varnum approached the state legislature about raising an all-black regiment. This would mean that blacks could fight, not just serve as cooks or waiters in the white army. Although owners resisted the idea of arming their slaves, the legislature passed a law allowing "every able-bodied Negro, mulatto, or Indian man-slave" to enlist. Owners would be reimbursed, and the enlisted slaves would be freed. Within four months the law was rescinded, but there were already 200 enlistees, most of them former slaves, in the new regiment. The well-drilled, smartly dressed regiment proved its mettle, even after the French allies retreated and the white militia was pulled back by the governor to protect other parts of the mainland. In a fierce battle against crack Hessian fighters, the Black Regiment drove back assaults three times. Later the black soldiers joined with others to defeat the British at Yorktown, Virginia. The award-winning author, a Rhode Island resident, has previously published a children's nonfiction book about North Carolina, as well as the picture books Flannel Kisses and Marshmallow Kisses. Here, she weaves the stories of several individual soldiers through her detailed historical narrative. She explains that victory did not mean happy personal endings for many of the black soldiers. Those who survived often had to work at low-paying jobs to pay for family members' freedom. The illustrator has created art for more than twenty children's books about American history, including Revolutionary War Days and Civil War Days, as well as books about other cultures. The picture-book format of this volume allows space for her handsome illustrations, plus maps and materials from the Library of Congress and the Rhode Island Historical Society. The book is a refreshingly straightforward history; it is not dumbed down for middle readers in its vocabulary or content. A glossary, suggested reading, and Web sites to visit will lead youngsters to even more knowledge. This detailed resource book is not just for Rhode Island readers, but for anyone who wants to learn more about the role of African-Americans in this nation's history. Copyright 2004 ForeWord Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
During the American Revolution, Rhode Island enlisted slaves to fight against the British because the state had too few available soldiers. Brennan discusses the development of the Black Regiment, its success in battle, and what life was like for troops after the war was over. A crowded book design includes sidebars, maps, and illustrations. A list of places to visit is appended. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2005 March
Although it is in picture book format, the reading level of this book is higher than typical picture books. This is the little-known story of the first Black Regiment fighting for the independence of the colonies during the Revolutionary War. In 1778, Rhode Island passed a law stating that slaves who enlisted would be paid and, "upon passing muster," each slave would be free. Black soldiers repelled Hessian forces, protecting the Continental forces from capture. Each page has more text than one expects in a picture book. There are maps and a timeline, and many beautiful watercolor illustrations that add to the text. Sidebars contain information that kids will love such as loading and firing muskets, guns, and bayonets. This is a good book to enhance multicultural collections, as well as giving recognition to a part of our American history that is long overdue. Glossary. Index. Recommended. Saundra Kilar, Library Media Specialist, South Lyon (Michigan) High School © 2005 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 January
Gr 4-6-Watercolor illustrations, maps, and reproductions assist in telling the story of the black slaves who fought in the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution. Presented in a picture-book format, the narrative includes detailed descriptions of the events leading up to the formation of the Black Regiment and the role these soldiers played in the war. Relevant information about the history of slavery is also presented. Brennan concludes that the bravery of these men aided in the abolishment of slavery in America ("Their shining example proved that all men deserve to be free."). Large, action-packed paintings show the troops in action and provide a glimpse into the past. Sidebars support the text with additional information. A helpful glossary, a list of suggested reading, and places to visit are appended.-Christine E. Carr, Lester C. Noecker Elementary School, Roseland, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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