Priscilla is only four years old when her mother is sold to another master. All Priscilla has to remember her mother by are the hollyhocks she planted by the cow pond. At age ten, Priscilla is sold to a Cherokee family and continues her life as a slave. She keeps hope for a better life alive by planting hollyhocks wherever she goes. At last, her forced march along the Trail of Tears brings a chance encounter that leads to her freedom.
Based on a true story. For elementary schoool age children.
What others are saying:
"Priscilla and the Hollyhocks tells a story too often ignored or overlooked - a story of how the west was not won but captured. Reading about Priscilla's remarkable life makes all our hearts a bit warmer while filling our heads with a much-needed piece of American history."
Nikki Giovanni, poet
"When Priscilla's mother is sold to a new owner and the two are separated, the young slave girl finds solace in her mother's hollyhock patch. As she grows older, the kind words of a white businessman, Basil Silkwood, instill in Priscilla a desire to attend school, but she is soon sold to a Cherokee family, and her life of servitude continues. As her Native American owners embark on the grueling 20 mile journey west, known as the 1838 "Trail of Tears," she again meets the compassionate Silkwood, who purchases her freedom. Alter's appealing acrylic illustrations, rendered in single- and double- page spreads and framed close-ups, elevate the emotion of the story and echo the flattened perspective and thick outlines of folk art.
Based on real events, Broyles' poetic and colloquial narrative, voiced by a grown Priscilla, ends with the girl sowing the seeds of her mother's hollyhocks near her new home with the Silkwoods and an author's note detailing the historical basis of the story."
Excerpt from PRISCELLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
When I was young and still wore slavery’s yoke,
I was saved by hollyhocks, and a white man’s kindness.
Freedom filled my dreams, but I was born a slave’s child.
“She’ll fetch a pretty penny,” Master said as he loaded Ma up in a wagon like a steer led to slaughter. Ma turned her anguished face to me, raised one hand in farewell.
I lacked strength to wave back, tho’ I ’spect my eyes mirrored her sorrow.
I pined after Ma.
Old Sylvia recollected me t’was Ma planted hollyhocks along the white picket fence by the cow pond.
“Your ma made hollyhock dolls like this, Priscilla,” Old Sylvia said. She took the beauteous pink flower in her gnarled brown hands, pushed and pulled it into shape, set it sail on the cow pond. I watched my flower dolly float and felt my mother’s smile.
Six years I played like any child. The cow pond was my home, the cows my family. I could turn a hollyhock blossom into a pretty lady in no time flat. Then I was put to the work for which Master said I had been born.
“Work hard and keep still,” Old Sylvia told me. She put a dust rag in my hands.
My first days in the Big House, I felt the weight of Master’s rules. I played invisible, silent as the walls, and hoped no one would pay me no mind. I learnt not to jump when Master hollered, but my insides was aquiverin’. Late at night, as I lay on a quilt in the attic, alone, I ’membered the sound of other slaves’ screams as Master beat them.
My poundin’ heart echoed the blows Master struck against black bodies.
Sundays I fled to the hollyhocks. I watched my dollies float, dance, cross the pond.
My smile escaped at the joy of it.
One mornin’ when I served First Master his porridge, his hand stung my cheek.
“Tarnation, you’re slow, gal!” He jumped up, knocked over the chair, stormed out with a slammed door curse. I clutched the unspilled bowl in my warm, tremblin’ hands, took it back to the kitchen.
“Might as well eat,” Cook said, and added a dollop of sugar to the porridge.
I grinned, picked up a spoon.
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...the cows my family. If Anne could name the cows in her family, what would they be called? Give at least two names.