Cover image for Home is with our family
Home is with our family
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, c2010.
Physical Description:
282 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
700 L Lexile
Added Author:
Maria Peterson is looking forward to turning thirteen in 1855, attending abolitionist meetings and listening to inspiring speakers like Sojourner Truth. But her thirteenth year brings unexpected changes: the city of New York wants to turn her community, Seneca Village, into an enormous "Central Park." Now that Maria has made a new friend, she's even more determined to stay, but she soon discovers that her friend may have issues even more dire than being thrown out of her home. Will Maria be able to save her home and help her friend?


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available

On Order



Now that she is turning thirteen, Maria Peterson envisions new adult prestige and responsibility, like attending abolitionist meetings and listening to inspiring speakers such as Sojourner Truth. The year also brings trials and tribulations for her family and friends, however. The City of New York wants to turn her community's settlement into a park. Now that Maria has made a new friend, she's even more determined to stay put. But soon Maria discovers that her friend has a problem even more dire than being thrown out of her home. Will Maria be able to help her? And what will happen to her own family's home?
Filled with vivid period detail, action, and pathos, Home is with Our Family draws on the talents of two Coretta Scott King Award-winners to create a complete picture of a little known settlement in nineteenth century New York City. Like Little House on the Prairie and The Birch Bark House , Home Is with Our Family provides an intimate view of daily life in a time gone by.

Author Notes

Joyce Hansen is the author of several books for children and young adults, receiving the Coretta Scott King Honor on four occasions. Her books include I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly , One True Friend , and Home Boy . She presently lives in South Carolina with her husband writing full-time. Visit her website at

E.B. Lewis is the acclaimed illustrator of many award-winning picture books, including the 2005 Caldecott Honor Book, Coming on Home Soon . He has won four Coretta Scott King Illustrator awards for his work on books such as Talking About Bessie , by Nikki Grimes and Verivie Goes to School With Us Boys . Mr. Lewis teaches illustration at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, and is a member of the Society of Illustrators. He lives in Folsom, New Jersey. Visit his website at

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Maria and her family live in New York City in 1855. They are free "colored" people and own their home, but they have been notified that their neighborhood will be demolished for the future Central Park. The residents are furious that the city is taking their land and not paying them what they believe it is worth. A new girl in school, Anna, who is about Maria's age, is uneducated and reticent about her past. Maria discovers that although Anna's parents are free, Anna is considered a runaway and lives in fear of being captured by slave hunters. Maria is so impressed when she hears Sojourner Truth speak that she and her friends attempt to raise enough money to buy Anna's freedom. The story gets bogged down in too much description of Maria and her family's daily life, and the landowners' fight against the city is not fully developed. Only in the last few chapters when the girls flee a slave hunter and Anna and her family are hidden is there any excitement. The writing is merely a dull recitation of events, not the eloquent, flowing prose her fans have previously enjoyed. The story may find some interest in the New York area, or with the Hansen's die-hard fans.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

In 1855, thirteen-year-old Maria's family is in danger of losing its home to Central Park's development. Meanwhile, Maria, inspired by hearing Sojourner Truth speak, gets involved in the struggles of a fugitive slave family. Hansen's New York City setting, ably assisted by Lewis's atmospheric black-and-white spot illustrations, is vividly presented. An author's note tells more about the time and place. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

It is 1855 in Manhattan and Maria Peters is 13 years old. The African-American girl wants nothing more than to take part in the local abolitionist meetings, but getting into fights in the schoolyard and failing her class sewing project lead Mama to believe she isn't mature enough to attend. But when the new girl at school turns out to be a runaway slave, Maria has a chance to show her family that her commitment to freedom is serious. Set against the backdrop of a New York City that was in the process of evicting free blacks and Irish and German immigrant families from the area that became Central Park, this straightforward series opener aims for the cozy feel of the Little House or All-of-a-Kind Family books, rich with details of Maria's home and school life. Unfortunately, Hansen misses that mark with occasionally didactic dialogue and slow pacing. Still, young readers will find the setting fascinating, and this will pair well with Tonya Bolden's nonfiction Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl (2005). (Historical fiction. 9-12) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The historical facts are even more gripping than the fiction in this novel set in 1850s New York City. In the first chapter, Maria Peters, 13, is inspired when she hears Sojourner Truth deliver a thundering abolitionist speech in church. In the last chapter, Maria and her family must leave home when the city destroys their black community to make room for Central Park. At times, the narrative bogs down with the details of the huge cast of characters trying to organize resistance to the displacement. But the heartrending abolitionist story is made personal with Maria's new, quiet friend in school, Anna, who turns out to be a fugitive hiding from the slave-catchers. Anna's parents earned their freedom down South but Anna still belongs to the slave-owner, and her parents could be arrested for stealing her. So could Maria, for helping Anna. Woven throughout, the history of Central Park adds to the story's underlying questions about the meaning of roots and displacement. Small, delicate illustrations by Lewis add interest at the opening of each chapter.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist