Book Description

Accelerated Reader Quiz available: #117017

Eleven-year-old Solomon Freeman and his parents, newly freed slaves, are building a homestead in north Florida's wilderness, living their dream of independence. Their battle to survive is filled with harsh difficulties in this wild and fickle new home, and they all work long, hard days. Solomon's father, Moses, dreams of his only son sharing his love for the land. Lela, his mother, tries to shield Solomon from his father's expectations, for she knows that the boy's heart is not in the fields.

Solomon is a natural woodsman, good at fishing and hunting. Though these skills bring food to their meager table, Moses wants his son to concentrate on farming. Further distancing father and son is the arrival of a refined Virginian brandishing a fifteen-foot whip with deadly precision. Solomon is captivated by the man and the whip while Moses despises the whip and dreads his son's fascination with the newcomer. Lela struggles to make a home, keep peace between her husband and son, and continue Solomon's education as they fight to survive.

When the chance comes to go on a cattle drive, Solomon jumps at it—though his parents are reluctant to let him go. He confronts a new world as he rides a Florida marshtackie horse, wields his whip rounding up a large herd of wild cattle, and brings them to market at the coast—where he sees sights he had never dreamed existed.

Are the Freemans strong enough to build a successful homestead? Will they be welcomed in this hard place where blacks have only been slaves in years past? Will the family seal its bond through shared hardship or splinter irreparably? Does Solomon have the wisdom he needs to face challenges beyond his years and see the family through its perils?

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About Bishop Shaw, Marilyn

A fifth-generation Floridian, Marilyn Bishop Shaw writes from her roots for young readers, an audience she knows well after thirty years of teaching. She holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Florida. Bitten by the travel bug during a summer at Oxford University, she now leads groups on European tours every other year. Ms. Shaw lives on a farm in north central Florida with her husband.