The Escape of Robert Smalls


Escape of Robert Smalls

The Escape of Robert Smalls

by Jehan Jones Radgowski and Poppy Kang


“Smalls and the rest of the crew were taking a big risk… No person had ever done this before. They would pass by armed forts, where soldiers were on alert. They would risk their lives, all for the chance to be free.”


“The mist in Charleston Inner Harbor was heavy, but not heavy enough to disguise the stolen Confederate steamship, the Planter, from Confederate soldiers. In the early hours of May 13, 1862, in the midst of the deadly U.S. Civil War, an enslaved man named Robert Smalls was about to carry out a perilous plan of escape. Standing at the helm of the ship, Smalls impersonated the captain as he and his crew passed heavily armed Confederate forts to enter Union territory, where escaped slaves were given shelter. The suspenseful escape of the determined crew is celebrated with beautiful artwork and insightful prose, detailing the true account of an unsung American hero.

Author Bio: Jehan Jones-Radgowski is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She has lived all over the world, including South Africa, Spain, Venezuela, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Jehan currently lives in Germany with her family.

Illustrator Bio: Poppy Kang is an illustrator and background artist with a passion to create artwork that has meaningful messages and cinematic lighting. She was born in China and developed her illustration talent at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Poppy is currently based in Los Angeles.”

(synopsis and bios taken from Net Galley)


I received this books for free in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. First of all, I have to say just how much I love children’s picture books that tell about stories that happened in real life. They bring history alive for kids. All the dates and names and numbers in the history books never worked for me. I needed the stories of the people to help explain what really went on and why it was so important. And that’s why I cant praise this book enough.

Jehan Jones Radgowski depicts the heroic acts of Robert Smalls in a simple yet powerful way that even the youngest reader can understand. She wove the history of the slave trade and the civil war into the story, giving us a context without making it sound like a lecture. It was an incredible work of art all on it’s own and then we get the illustrations by Poppy Kang too! The art was fantastic, with just the right mixture of realism and cartoon to make the images pop off the page.

This really was a fantastic read!


Age Group: 10+ 

Content Concerns: Slavery, Mild descriptions of anxiety and fear of being caught, as well as being killed. No injuries.


Check out these other titles about Slavery and the Civil War!

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