Children’s Book Review: Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story

Multiculturalism Rocks! Children’s Book Review: Hammering for Freedom
Book Title: Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story
Author: Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Age Range: Grade 1 – 2

In celebration of Black History Month, I'm honored to review Hubbard's inspirational
picture book Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story. 
William “Bill” Lewis was born a slave on a Tennessee plantation owned by Colonel James
Lewis. When Bill was just a young boy, Colonel Lewis put him to work as a blacksmith
rather than in the fields. 
As his owner, Colonel Lewis owned all the money Bill made from his blacksmith work but
he let Bill keep a few coins. Bill knew that if he saved up his money he could buy his
freedom. If he bought his freedom, then he could buy his family's freedom too.

“As Bill’s stack of coins grew, so did his hopes and dreams. Each coin he saved brought
him closer to purchasing his freedom. Once he was free, he could spend his money on
whatever he wanted. And what he wanted was to free his family.”
In 1837, Lewis opened his own blacksmith shop in Chattanooga, where he worked on 
his days off on the plantation to make more money for his freedom ($350). This alone
was a remarkable feat for a black man at this time. He then worked well into his fifties
to buy freedom for his entire family; including his wife, mother, aunt, sister and brothers.
“Twenty-six years after Bill’s arrival in Chattanooga, his plan was complete. He had
worked, sweated and prayed. Now he finally had his loving family around him, just like
when he was a boy. Only now they were all free.”
This is a beautiful book about breaking the chains of slavery; and, the endurance and
perseverance of black families.
Masterfully illustrated by John Holyfield, Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis
Story is Hubbard’s debut picture book and also the recipient of 2012 Lee & Low Books’
New Voices Awards which led to publication.
Learn More:
Rita Lorraine Hubbard
John Holyfield
Lee & Low 2012 New Voices Awards Interview
Where to Buy:

02.09.2011 Multicultural Round-Up: Don Tate, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Linda Sue Park & More…9

Hi everyone!

The blogosphere is buzzing with fresh and exciting news. This is just a small sample of links you might find of interest…

1- In honor of Black History Month Rita Lorraine Hubbard, author of AFRICAN AMERICANS OF CHATTANOOGA: A HISTORY OF UNSUNG HEROES (The History Press. 2008), interviewed Don Tate, illustrator of titles such as ZOOM: A BOOK of THINGS THAT GO (pop-up), RON’S BIG MISSION, and many more. Don answered Rita’s High-5. Click here for the interview, an “animated wisdom” about children’s book publishing. 🙂

2- New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s book BLESSED–a sequel to the wickedly delicious TANTALIZE and ETERNAL, is out. Cynthia is currently on a book tour. This is your chance to see her and a few other amazing authors in person. Here are her tour dates, as well the trailer of BLESSED. Enjoy and be bitten by curiosity…

3- Have you had a chance yet to read Newbery winner Linda Sue Park‘s latest masterpiece, A LONG WALK TO WATER? The author relates the true story of 11-year-old Salva “who, in 1985, is fleeing his homeland of Southern Sudan.” I invite you to watch the video booktalk of host and book reviewer Sonja Cole, on the website Sonja filmed the video in South-Africa. Hurry, the document might only be accessible this week.

4- At Reading in Color last week (hosted by Ari), I had the most fun reading this excellent interview of Sarwat Chadda, author of DEVIL’S KISS and his latest paranormal novel, DARK GODDESS. In the interview there’s something about body parts, McDonalds, and a fridge. All related. 😀

5- Dr. Zetta Elliott. Nuf said. Her blog doesn’t cease to inform, shake you up and inspire. I’m not linking to a particular post here. She had to be in this list for a variety of reasons. Her interview of Award-winning author Kekla MagoonThe Rock and the River, being only one of them. The list of African American speculative fiction for kids she compiled with Edi, Doret and Ari being another. And more. Head over, you’d be glad you did.

6- I learned quite a bit reading Robert Lawson’s “Indians–tame ones” and slaves in Minnesota, a post by Debbie Reese, founder and host of the educative blog American Indians in Children’s Literature. Robert Lawson’s book They Were Strong and Good, was published in 1940 and won the Caldecott. Here’s an extract of Debbie’s article: “What I find deeply satisfying about studying children’s books is the information they hold. Some, like They Were Strong and Good tell us a lot about history and race. They should not be dismissed as “less than” because they’re written for children.”
Read more here.

7- Last but not least: Black History Month Celebration continues at full steam at The Brown Bookshelf. Today’s interview features horror and paranormal author Artist Arthur. Here’s an extract: “While YA paranormal has been successful and quite popular, no surprise there haven’t been a boatload of authors of color in the mix. Enter Artist Arthur and her Mystyx series. (…)f paranormal isn’t diverse, chances are, readers of color will ignore it in favor of a genre that includes them. The Mystyx series includes them. The series follows three characters as they learn to deal with their special powers.” Read more here!

This concludes today’s round-up. What have you been up to this week? Read any post, heard of any event you’re dying to share? Let me know…

Have a wonderful day,


Edited at 9:30 A.M.