Mozay of Pepperwick is a middle grade fiction novel that showcases the topics of slavery, freedom, and the power of persistence. Written by Jean Perry, the first Black female journalist at the New York Daily News, who then transitioned into elementary education within the Los Angeles Unified School District where she worked for twenty five year. Inspired by a family story of how her grandfather learned to read this book presents history for younger readers.
Set in 1853 at Pepperwick, the largest rice plantation in South Carolina and begins with a man named Storyteller Old George, who has kept his fellow slaves focused on hope with stories of their lives before slavery, who is now buried up to his neck in the woods. Mozay is fifteen at the time and is an educated companion to Clarence Little, the rice planter’s son and when he sees the man being tortured he hears a mystical message that he is worthy of freedom and so are all. He then shifts his thinking to focus on escape and freedom, where he can teach others to read and write. While on a trip with the Little family to Charleston Mozay meets a freed blacksmith and finds himself connecting with others who could help him to gain freedom. He must though push himself to move past his own fear and go forward with no answers in advance of what could happen.
Perry uses the story of Mozay to highlight the importance of family stories and sharing history with others. She also showcases how we must move past our fears and allow ourselves to achieve our dreams. This is such a powerful story and it examines history in a way that young readers will definitely be able to relate to. I loved the Dear America series growing up and this reminded me of those books in a great way. You can get your copy of Mozay of Pepperwick today.