The Slave Dancer

by Paula Fox, and published by Bradbury



The Slave Dancer is a gripping novel about a thirteen-year-old boy, who is kidnapped from the streets of New Orleans and taken aboard a slave ship in 1840. This starkly realistic, but absorbing account of Jessie Bollier's experiences during the four months of his own captivity reveals the violence and horrors of human enslavement with all its inhuman conditions and bestial aspects. The cruel nature of both the captain and his crew and their greed for the profit they would reap from the sale of their human cargo make them insensitive to the plight of their captives and even to each other. In spite of the revulsion to the horrors surrounding him, his growing hatred for the crew, and the pity he felt for the slaves, for his own survival Jessie played his fife so that the slaves could "dance" to keep their muscles strong and their bodies profitable. When a hurricane strikes the ship everyone aboard is destroyed except Jessie and a young slave boy whose life he had saved earlier. The Slave Dancer is a moving story of one of the most gruesome chapters of history.

Awards Won

Title Year
John Newbery Medal

A medal to be given for the most distiguished contribution to children's literature produced during the preceding calendar year.

1974 - Winner(s)