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Cover image for Stolen into slavery : the true story of Solomon Northup, free black man
Stolen into slavery : the true story of Solomon Northup, free black man

Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, c2012.
Physical Description:
120 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
"Well, my boy, how do you feel now?" -- "I wished for wings" -- "I will learn you your name!" -- Life is dear to every living thing -- "A song of peace" -- "If I ever catch you with a book" -- "I am here now a slave" -- "How can I end my days here?" -- "Solomon Northup is my name!" -- "I had been restored to happiness and liberty".
Reading Level:
1060 L Lexile
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
The true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York, who was kidnapped in 1841 and spent 12 years as a slave on deadly Louisiana coastal plantations.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 306.362 FRA 1 1

On Order



The true story behind the acclaimed movie 12 Years a Slave, this book is based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was captured in the United States and sold into slavery in Louisiana.
Solomon Northup awoke in the middle of the night with his body trembling. Slowly, he realized that he was handcuffed in a dark room and his feet were chained to the floor. He managed to slip his hand into his pocket to look for his free papers that proved he was one of 400,000 free blacks in a nation where 2.5 million other African Americans were slaves. They were gone.
This remarkable story follows Northup through his 12 years of bondage as a man kidnapped into slavery, enduring the hardships of slave life in Louisiana. But the tale also has a remarkable ending. Northup is rescued from his master's cotton plantation in the deep South by friends in New York. This is a compelling tale that looks into a little known slice of history, sure to rivet young readers and adults alike.

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Author Notes

Dennis and Judy Fradin have published over 150 books for children, nearly all of them nonfiction. They are the recipients of many awards, most recently the 2004 SCBWI Golden Kite Honor book Award for The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine . In 2005 they published 5,000 Miles to Freedom with The National Geographic Society. It was named a ALA Best Book for Young Adults among many other honors.

Reviews 4

Horn Book Review

In 1841 free black man Solomon Northup is kidnapped, sold into slavery, and shipped to Louisiana. Holding onto his love of music and his family, Northup endures twelve years of heartbreak and abuse. Faithful to his autobiography, the authors present an authentic account of slavery. Maps, archival photographs, and illustrations complement this stirring biography. Timeline, websites. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Expanding a chapter from Dennis Fradin's Bound for the North Star: True Stories of Fugitive Slaves (2000), the Fradins relate the harrowing experiences of a freeborn New York resident who was kidnapped, drugged, and sold into slavery in 1841. Repeatedly sold and renamed, Northup spent 12 years in captivity on several Louisiana plantations before he was able to contact his family and, more importantly, considering contemporary laws and attitudes, a white lawyer who knew him to secure his release. Based on Northup's published account, supported by other sources, and enhanced by both relevant period illustrations and generous quantities of print and web leads to further information, this simply, cogently written story illuminates one of the less well known episodes in slavery's history.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Using a format similar to that of their 5000 Miles to Freedom (National Geographic, 2006), the Fradins tell the dramatic story of a free African American man from New York who was tricked, drugged, and sold into slavery in 1841. They draw upon Northup's 1853 memoir and their own research to describe his 12-year ordeal, from his fear and confusion when he awoke in a Washington, DC, slave market to his journey by ship to New Orleans to his brutal treatment at the hands of slave masters and overseers. The Fradins also discuss his ceaseless and often-dangerous efforts to prove his identity and reclaim his status as a free man and reunite with his wife and three children. The authors place his story into the context of antebellum America by examining how Northup's memoir affected the national debate about slavery. The text is supplemented with black-and-white reproductions of period documents and illustrations, modern location photos, and maps. This book will help readers understand the constant dangers that even free blacks faced, the brutality of slavery, and how the abolitionist movement used the accounts of escaped and freed slaves to shape public opinion. It offers much more detail than Mary Young and Gerald Horne's Testaments of Courage: Selections from Men's Slave Narratives (Watts, 1995), which includes a chapter on Northup.-Mary Mueller, formerly at Rolla Junior High School, MO (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853. Photographs, maps and reproductions of a bill of sale and various newspaper images complement the text. Unfortunately, sources are not always provided, as for a Frederick Douglass quotation on the final page, and the meager bibliography offers no sources for young readers, a shame since so many fine sources exist. An excellent and important introduction to a man who went from freedom to slavery and back again. (afterword, time line, online resources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



Solomon Northup awoke in the middle of an April night in 1841 with his body trembling, his head throbbing, and a terrifying question in his mind: Where was he? He slowly realized that he was in a dark, dank, foul-smelling dungeon in Washington, D.C. Worse yet, he was in handcuffs and his feet were chained to the floor.   As his head cleared, Solomon managed to slip a hand into his trousers pocket, where he had placed his money and his "free papers" for safekeeping. They were gone! He checked his other pockets and found no trace of the money or the papers that proved he was one of 400,000 "free blacks" in a nation where 2.5 million African Americans were slaves.   "There must have been some mistake," Solomon told him- self. Any second now the two white men he had been traveling with would arrive to free him. But as the night wore on, he began to wonder whether these seemingly friendly men could have betrayed him.   The rising sun revealed that Solomon was in a cell with only one small window covered by thick iron bars. Soon he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. A key turned in a lock, the heavy iron door swung open, and two men entered the room where Solomon was chained.   "Well, my boy, how do you feel now?" asked one of the men, who Solomon later learned was named James Birch.   Solomon, who was 32 years old, wasn't accustomed to being called "boy," which was a demeaning way of addressing male slaves regardless of age. "What is the cause of my imprisonment?" Solomon demanded.   "I have bought you, and you are my slave." Excerpted from Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man by Dennis Brindell Frandin, Judith Bloom Fradin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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