The town of Beaufort, South Carolina is the starting point for this true story of a daring escape by an African American slave. It’s a beautiful seaside town and I’d fully recommend a visit. The text in this new edition was originally written by Louise Meriwether and published in 1971. Its re-release this year comes with colorful paintings throughout by renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.

The tale is shared in just 32 pages, perfect for emerging readers and for out loud reading. Older readers will be spurred on to researching more about this time period. It’s a brave story of a man who wanted freedom for his family and decided the odds were best via the sea. I knew going in there was going to be a happy ending for our hero as Robert Smalls served for five terms in the U.S. Congress. I didn’t know if the journey was successful for his wife, two children and the rest of the slaves who hopped on board with their families. That answer is found within the story.

Here’s the official background:

Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small’s life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy and rose to the rank of captain and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics.

History comes alive with books like THE FREEDOM SHIP OF ROBERT SMALLS. A great addition to any school or home library.


Coming up next week is another…
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. What a remarkable story of a slave who freed his family and others and when on to play a role in American politics. Hooray for the author who wrote this book!

  2. I had never heard of Robert Smalls. I will definitely check this book out. Fascinating. Thanks for the post.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this book with us, Greg. The cover art is stunning, and the story sounds absolutely amazing. I must look for this one–and soon.

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