Cover image for Freedom over me : eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life
Freedom over me : eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life
Bryan, Ashley, author, illustrator.
First edition.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
"Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Big Flats Library 1 J B Juvenile Fiction Book
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 2 J 811 B Juvenile Fiction Book
Hornell Public Library 1 J BRY OVERSIZE Juv Paperback Fic Book
Horseheads Free Library 1 J B Juvenile Fiction Book
Howard Public Library 1 J 811 BRY New Juvenile NonFiction Book
Van Etten Library 1 J B Juvenile Fiction Book
Wellsville - David A. Howe Public Library 1 J B Juvenile Fiction Book
West Elmira Library 1 J B Juvenile NonFiction Book

On Order



Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as...a lantern.

You, an object. An object to sell.

In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN'T be bought or sold--dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his "workers", Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person's life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about--their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you've seen.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Inspired by a document appraising the value of 11 enslaved people (along with livestock and cotton) in an estate for sale in the antebellum South, this exceptional book presents the imagined faces and voices of individuals whose society, against all reason, regarded them as less than human. Each person appears in a four-page section, opening with a page of free-verse text opposite a riveting head-and-shoulders portrait with a grim collage background of slavery-related documents. A banner reveals the person's appraised value, master-imposed slave name, and age. In the text, these individuals introduce themselves, their roles on the estate, and the skills (cooking, blacksmithing, sewing) they take pride in. On the second double-page spread, a verse text offers more personal reflections on their African roots, their love of family, and their dreams, while a more detailed, colorful painting expresses their heritage, their strength, and their rich inner lives. Their humanity shines through, showing the tragedy of their status and the gross absurdity of assigning prices to people. Longing for freedom is a constant theme, made all the more poignant by the appraisal document's date: 1828, decades before emancipation. Clean and spare, the verse brings the characters to life, while in the radiant artwork, their spirits soar. Rooted in history, this powerful, imaginative book honors those who endured slavery in America.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Using a document from 1828 that lists the value of a U.S. landowner's 11 slaves, Bryan (Sail Away) creates distinct personalities and voices for each, painting their portraits and imagining their dreams. He starts with the wife of the slave owner, who felt her husband was good to their slaves ("He never hired an overseer"). But it's quickly clear that "good" slave ownership is an oxymoron: "I work hard-all profit to the estate," their cook Peggy observes. Bryan shows that the enslaved had secret lives of their own: "Years ago blacksmith Bacus and I/ 'jumped the broom'-/ the slave custom for marriage. No legal form for slaves." They cherish their traditions, call each other by their African names ("I am Bisa, 'Greatly Loved'?"), dream of escape, and long for freedom. His portraits show the men, women, and children gazing out at readers, the contours of their faces traced as if carved from wood, while strong rhythmic outlines mimic stained glass, echoing the sense of sacred memory. There are few first-person accounts of slaves, and these imagined words will strike a chord with even the youngest readers. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Bryan presents the lives and dreams of 11 enslaved people in free verse. He found their names on a document appraising the property of a deceased estate owner in mid-19th-century America. Eleven enslaved people were listed on that document by name and dollar appraisement along with cattle, horses, and pigs. Bryan has given each individual an age, an occupation, and a dream. Three narrators, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, and Jenny Sterlin, successfully voice them. Estate owner Cado Fairchilds apprenticed his slaves to tradesmen to learn carpentry, metalwork, gardening, pottery, basket making, cooking, and sewing. Each slave takes pride in work well done but longs for a day when labor would be for his or her gain and not for the enrichment of Fairchilds's estate. They all dream of living free, having their personhood respected, coming and going as they please, and marrying and raising a family that will not be divided. Bryan presents a window into plantation life without gruesome details but directed to the heart of every listener. -VERDICT This is a winner with a message for all ages.-Mary Lee Bulat, Harwinton Public Library, CT © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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