The Slave Dancer

Infobox Book
name = The Slave Dancer
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption = The cover of the first edition of the book, published in 1973
author = Paula Fox
illustrator = Eros Keith
cover_artist = Eros Keith
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Historical novel
publisher = Bradbury Press
release_date = November 1973
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 176 pages
isbn = ISBN 0878880623
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Slave Dancer" is a children's book written by Paula Fox and published in 1973. It tells the story of a boy who witnessed first-hand the savagery of the African slave trade. The book not only includes a historical account, but it also touches upon the emotional conflicts felt by those involved in transporting the slaves from Africa to other parts of the world. It received the Newbery Medal in 1974.

Plot Summary

At the end of the book, a true historical account of a shipwreck was presented by the author which probably served as the baseline of the whole plot of the story.

The first page tells that there was a certain ship named "The Moonlight" which sank in the Gulf of Mexico, June 3, 1840. The officers of the ship were named as Captain Cawthorne-the master and Nicholas Spark as the Mate. The crew were enumerated as follows: Jessie Bollier, John Cooley, Adolph Curry, Louis Gardere, Ned Grime, Isaac Porter, Clay Purvis, Claudius Sharkey, Seth Smith, Benjamin Stout and Sam Wick. The cargo included 98 slaves coming from Africa whose names were only known by their families except for the boy named Ras. It was stated that there were only 2 survivors among the persons mentioned.

The story started with an errand given to Jessie, the main character of the novel, by his mother. Jessie's mother was a seamstress and since they were extremely impoverished, he was sent to go to Aunt Augatha to borrow some candles because their oil lamps were out of oil. When Jessie went to get the candles he got kidnapped and brought aboard the slave ship,"The Moonlight".

Jessie's job was to play his flute for the slaves aboard ship so they would dance and keep up their muscle tone (hence the title of the book). He started to hate the slaves very existence, and dreaded doing anything that related to them.

Then they came in contact with an "enemy" ship, and Jessie and the slave named Ras hid under the deck so they wouldn't get killed or harmed. There was a terrible storm; except for Jessie and Ras, the rest of the crew and cargo died when the "Moonlight" sank. They then woke up and found themselves on land. Next, they then meet someone named Daniel, who then takes care of them. The old man then helped Ras get to a safe place, and told Jessie how to get home.


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