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Africa is My Home


Our journey through the book has been a wonderful experience.  We have been reading the book as a whole class.  The class is separated into 5 groups, since we have five books to share.  Each day we read together and enter in our interactive journal.  Each night, a specific group creates a comment based on their journal. Some times, the group has two prompts to choose from.  So far, our prompts have been:

Group 1:  Summarize pages 1-5/ write a caption for page 3

Group 2: How did Ms. Edinger use powerful language to make the story "come alive"?  /What new experiences did she have?

Group 3: Why was it fair/unfair for Cinque to go on trial?

Group 4: Describe her pleasant experiences

Group 5: After the court announced its decision, she probably felt...

Make a prediction about her return home.

If you haven't heard already, our class has been selected to preview a book called, Africa is My Home, A Child of the Amistad.  The book is written by Monica Edinger, she is a New York teacher who I am in communication with.  Our class will be reading the book and giving feedback to Monica before it is officially published.  This is very exciting and we are lucky to have been selected for the job!  We will be using the blog to post comments about the book and share our unique experience with the book.  When students add a comment, please use their first name and last letter of their last name.  You may use my e-mail address

39 thoughts on “Africa is My Home

  1. Marcus B.

    This is my summary of pages 1-5.
    A little nine year old girl who lived in West Africa, Mendeland, was taken from her family and bought by slave traders. She is first told she will be a pawn to another man in the village. He has given her father rice in return for her help with his family. When her father pays the man, she will return home. Unfortunately, the man becomes greedy and sells her to slave traders before her father could pay off the debt. Her mother is so upset, but there is nothing they can do. She is marched off with other men, women and children, who will all become slaves. There were many bystanders who watched them walk to their boat. She is just nine years old and very scared. She cried herself to sleep thinking of her family.

    1. Gail Desler

      Hi Marcus,

      I am struck by your statement: "There were many bystanders who watched them walk to their boat." I'm crossing my fingers that as we read Africa Is My Home, someone will cross the line and stand up for Margru.

    1. Gail Desler

      Hi Anna,

      I thought a bit about your verb choice of "taking" for the caption and wondered if such a heartbreaking event should have a stronger verb. I could not come up with a replacement I liked better than yours.

      I've re-read the paragraph above the illustration a couple of times. I really like the way Ms. Edinger, the author, ends the paragraph with what looks like a sentence, but is really two phrases. I think the effect is powerful.

  2. Chloe V.

    This story depicts real life experiences. In this section of the book, there is a girl who enjoys her life living in Mendeland, West Africa. One day, her father informs her that she will be working for the slave traders. Shortly after, she gets carried away by slave traders. Eventually, she finds out that she is not the only one being taken away from their families.

  3. Colton L.

    This is my summary of pages 1-5. A little nine year old girl who lived in West Africa, Mendeland was taken by a man in the village to be a slave. The man in the village made a trade with the little girl's father. If the little girl's father gives the man money, then he will give the girl's father some rice. When the little girl's father was giving the man money, that man was a greedy man. the man took the young girl away and her mother was angry and tried to get her back, but there was nothing she could do about it. While the young girl and the slaves were going to a boat, there were bystanders that were watching them walk to the boat. The little girl was very scared and was crying herself to sleep wanting to see her family and be home.

    1. Gail Desler


      I'm looking at the illustration os pages 4-5 and now see what you mean by "While the young girl and the slaves were going to a boat, there were bystanders that were watching them walk to the boat." It's hard to imagine that people would continue with whatever they were doing while the slave traders are marching children away. But I guess that, across history, that is the nature of a bystander.

  4. Danika P.

    Caption for picture on pg. 3: A girl's mom is trying not to let a slave trader take away her daughter.

    1. Gail Desler

      Hi Danika,

      I was just wondering if there is a reason you are using "a girl" in your caption, instead of her name, Margru. Is it because Ms. Edinger does not include her name in the story?

  5. Chloe L.

    This is my summary.
    An African girl lives in West Africa, Mendeland. The girl was happy to be in her home, but then a drought came along. The father had to give his daughter to a slave trader for rice. The girl went to the coast with many other slaves. As soon as she went on the ship at sea, she was away from her home and she was very sad.

  6. Riana A.

    It is unfair that Cinque is on trial, because he was taken from his homeland by force. Also, he had to try to help his friends get away and get back to Africa.

  7. Vivian L.

    It is not fair for Cinque to go on trial because when he is held captive on a ship and he's trying to escape, he has to eliminate the people on the ship to do so. Cinque deserves the right to be free and should have been able to eliminate the people without going to jail.

  8. Nathan H.

    Some of the the new experiences for her were: the white men that looked like ghosts, the ocean, the boat, the different and funny clothes, and the horse.

  9. Samantha J.

    Here is my summary of her pleasant experiences.

    I am really surprised that she had pleasant experiences. One thing she did was learn English from a book while making animal sounds. Another pleasant experience was having a wagon ride. One more experience was trying on clothes. She started to laugh until her sides hurt. She was laughing because she has never tried on those kind of clothes before and thought they looked silly. All these things were pleasant because she has never done these things before in Africa. These were all the pleasant things that happened to her.

  10. Sophia M.

    I like how Ms. Edinger, the author, uses strong words. This helps me understand the story because I can feel the little 9 year old's pain.

  11. Nelson C.

    The girl had three joyful experiences. One experience that was fun was that the girl had to wear a lot of clothes and she was laughing really hard. Another reason was that she rode a wagon and she never saw horses before. Finally, the girl had fun at learning English because she never heard English before. That was joyful to the girl.

  12. Nelson C.

    The girl had three joyful experiences in Cuba. One experience that the girl enjoyed was that she got to wear a lot of clothes and she laughed really hard. Another joyful experience was that the girl got to ride on a wagon and she never saw a horse before. The final joyful experience was learning English because the girl never heard English before.Those were the girl's joyful experiences.

  13. Saket K.

    After the court announced the girl's freedom, she was cheerful.
    She was cheerful because she wanted to go back home. I think next she will re-unite with her family.

  14. Crisabel W.

    I like how Ms.Edinger, the author, used powerful words to make the character come alive. This helps me understand the story more because I can feel what the little girl is feeling and her emotions. When she uses the word trembling in the story I can tell when the little girl is scared or upset. The little girl was trembling when a man on the ship told her that the white men might kill her. We don't usually use words like this to express emotions like this very often in life.

  15. Jacob M.

    I was surprised when she had pleasant experiences. One is that she had trouble putting on a dress, when she got it on correctly she laughed so hard because she never wore so many clothes. Another is her first wagon ride, she was a little scared but she thought it was fun. Final experience is when she is learning English because it was a new language.

  16. Lucas A.

    I like how Ms. Edinger, the author, uses powerful words. This helps me understand the story becuase these words aren't used often.

  17. Danielle E.

    I was surprised that the girl had pleasant experiences. She had a pleasant experience trying on clothes. That was a pleasant experience because they were laughing so hard that they had so much clothes on. They also had a pleasant experience when they were riding in the wagon. At first, she was terrified but, then she had lots of fun seeing all the animals and buildings. Her last, pleasant experience was when she got to learn English and read books.

  18. Gerlyn H.

    After the court announced its decision, she probably felt joyful.The girl felt joyful because she will be able to go back home to Africa. My predicton is that she'll see fer family and reunite them by teaching them what she's learned.

  19. Lamar B.

    After the court announced it's decision she probably felt extremely overjoyed because she could finally go home.
    I think she will go home and she will meet her family.

  20. Katrina J.

    After The Court

    After the court announced its descision, the little girl probably felt grateful because if the court didn't agree, she would have probably stayed a slave. I think that she will come home to Africa and teach her family all she has learned during her adventure.

  21. Gianna

    I'm suprised that the girl had a pleasant experience. The dresses looked so funny to them they laughed so hard their sides hurt, because in Africa it is very hot so they don't wear so much clothing. It also suprised me that the white people weren't so mean after all, because thay told the people to pay to see them in prison so the money they get from that could go to the slave's food. They also got to teach the white people their language, and the white people taught them English. Those are three reasons with details why the girl had a pleasant experience.

    1. Gianna and Group 4

      Our group was very fascinated by the book. One of the reasons our group was fascinated by the book was because of the amazing illustrations. The illustrations were very real life like. Another reason we were suprised by the book was that it was a true story. We appreciated that the author did a lot of research. The third reason our group was interested by the book was because of the discriptive words. The fourth reason we appreciated the book was because of how she compared and contrasted many things. One of the things the author compared and contrasted were the ships. The fifth reason we were overwhelmed was because of the poem like words. The poem like words mixed with the other sentences was a good match. The sixth reason we were curious about the book was because of the newspaper articles, the newspaper articles were very good information. The last reason our group enjoyed the book was because of the good clues, the good clues gave us an idea of what would happen next. In conclusion, those were the reasons we were fascinated by the book.
      Our group recomends three things, One of the suggestions is to put Margu's name in the beginning of the book, it would really help the reader understand better. The second reason is to have pronounciation for the names because we are not sure how to pronounce the names very clearly. The last request is to describe the caption on page three better because we just started the book we didn't understand the picture. In conclusion those are the things our group recomends.

      Group 3: Gianna S, Alex L, Ahab G, Brennen B, Vivian L, Rianna A.

  22. Jusiah H.

    After the court announced it's decision, she probaly felt excited. She felt excited because the court said she's not a slave any more. That's when she was excited. My prediction is that she's going to stay in America until she can get a boat and get to Africa and tell her family about Amercia. Then a couple years later she will go back and vist Amercia.

  23. Khylia S.

    After the court announced its decison she probably felt thrilled because she could go home to Africa and teach her family what she has learned in America. I think she will return to her home in Africa because she is free.

  24. Brennen B

    I am surprised that the girl had pleasant experiences. She laughed so hard about the clothes because she had never worn so many clothes. Next she thought it was funny to ride the horse because she had never riden a horse before. Finally the girl thought it was fun learning English because she had not learned that languige yet. Those were her pleasant experiences.

  25. Alex L.

    I am surprised the girl has pleasant experiences. I was surprised when she started to put on the clothes she bagan to laugh so hard that her sides hurted.And I was also surprised that she never rode in a wagon in Africa and she never saw a horse in Africa. And another pleasant experience was that there were no horses in Africa.

  26. Anahi D.

    This is my caption for page 3.The slave trader is taking the nine year old girl away from her family.

  27. Anna S.

    Our group was fascinated by the book.One reason we were overwhelmed with this book is because the author used the strong words. We enjoyed the strong words because the author used the strong words to describe the emotion. Another reason why we appreciated the story is she used funny parts. Our group was delighted by the funny parts because she used them at the right time. Our final reason we were amazed wth the book is Magulu's dreams. It was interesting because it reminded her of Africa and home. These are the reasons why we were delighted by the book.
    Throughout the book, we want to give some suggestions to the author. We would like to add her name more often in the book because she only mentioned it once and that was at the end of the book. We request that Ms. Edinger should add pronnounaciations to the hard words or names. Our group thought that you should add prounnouciations so we can learn how to pronounce the words. Ms.Edinger could maybe include more of Magulu's life in Africa because we would like to know more about her family. These are some suggestions we would like to change in this book.

    From group 1, Anahi D., Marcus B., Colton L., Chloe V., Danika P.
    and Anna S.

  28. Danielle Enero

    My group was fascinated by the book. We were delighted by the strong words in the book because it hepled us understand the book better. Also we enjoyed the illustrations becasuse it helped us know what was going on and where they were. We were also overwhelmed by the strong feelings and emotions it hepled us understand her feelings a lot better. Lastly, we were amazed by the interesting details in the book. we were interested by the details because it helped us know more about the book and what they are doing. This is what we enjoyed by the book.
    My group has a few suggestions about the book, Africa is my Home. We would like you to add her name earlier in the book because the readers want to know the main person's name in the book. We request that you should put pronucations next to the name so readers know how to pronounce the people's name. We also think that you should make a second book about her and her family. These are our recommendations for this book.
    Group 4: Danielle E, Lamar B, Matt W, Jacob M, Samantha J, Khylia S

  29. Group 5: Gerlyn, Jusiah, Katrina, Saket, Nelson

    Our group enjoyed the book, Africa is my Home. There are five main reasons why our group liked the book. The first reason why we were amazed is because of the illustrations. The illustrator made the pictures very colorful. The second reason why we were overwhelmed is because of the vivid words the author used. This helped us understand the story more. The third reason why we were delighted is the new experiences because Margu never seen those things and places in Africa. The forth reason why we were fascinated is the history because this story was based on a true life story. The last reason why we were surprised is the figurative language because it made the story a little bit more interesting. Those were the five reasons why we liked the story, Africa is my Home.

    Our group recommends four minor changes in the book, Africa is my Home. The first suggestion our group made was to make a pronounciation for the hard words because some of the words were complicated to say. Our second thought was to put captions under the illustrations to understand the pictures more. Our third request is to put her name somewhere near the beginning because we were all curious about her name. We would also like to add more figurative language because it makes the story a little more fun. Those were the four minor recommendations we would like for the book.
    Group 5: Gerlyn H, Saket K, Nelson C, Katrina J, Jusiah H, Eli F

  30. Crisabel W.

    Our group was facinated with the book. We were delighted by the strong words, illustrations, and the dreams of her homeland in Africa. We were amazed with the author's strong words because they helped us understand the character's emotions. Also, the illustrations suprised us with all of the beautiful colors. The dreams interested us because every time she thought of home, she dreamed about Africa that night.
    Our group has three recommendations for this story. Our thoughts are one to pronouce the African named in the story, two change H-e-l-l to underworld or the Devil's home, and three put Magulu's name through out the book. Our suggestion is that you tell us how to pronouce the African names in the story bcause, we don't know how to say the names correctly. Maybe you can change H-e-l-l to underworld or Devil's home because
    little kids might see the word and say it out loud at the wrong time. Our group would like to add Magulu's name throught out the story because people would probably stop reading before they get to her name.
    Group 2: Lucas A., Crisabel W., Nathan H., Chloe L., Sophia M.

  31. Monica Edinger

    Thank you so much for being the first class outside of my school to read AFRICA IS MY HOME. It was very exciting to read all your thoughtful and carefully composed comments.

    First of all, you all rightly suggested her name she come up in the story sooner. I'm with you on this and the reason it isn't has to do with the way publishing works. As I wrote Ms. Azevada (and she may have already told you this and, if so my apologies for writing this again, until last summer the title was AFRICA IS MY HOME: THE MEMORY BOOK OF SARAH MARGRU KINSON and earlier than that there had been a box at the beginning of the story about her name. During the design process the box disappeared, but I was okay with that because the title still had her name. But then the publisher felt the title had to change to what it now is (AFRICA IS MY HOME: A CHILD OF THE AMISTAD) and I pointed out to them that meant her name was nowhere which troubled me enormously. Since the book had already been designed at that point it was very hard to make any changes, but my editor agreed with me and we managed to add in the references to it that you read. I do agree though that it would be better to know her name sooner (my editor felt it was okay because it is in the flap copy), but am not sure where we could put it without making it awkward. That is, this is Margru (I use that name for her as it is the one most use for her today) telling her own story and usually when you do that you don't tend to use your own name. But maybe you can suggest a way to do it that would work!

    I was delighted so many of you liked the vivid and strong words. This book took so many years to create and one of the reasons was because I was nervous about writing about how Margru would feel and think. In fact, I tried for a long time to write her story as nonfiction, but she was too distant and so I finally switched to fiction and was then able to use stronger language to describe her feelings and observations from her point of view.

    I am also glad you enjoyed that it was a story featuring an interesting historical figure and event and especially that you liked the illustrations. I am thrilled by them. I originally conceived the book has having mostly primary sources (such as newspaper articles and such) that you could manipulate like the Ology books, but the publisher decided that the way to go was more illustrations. I think it was a great decision.As for the artist, I suggested him because I knew his work and he ended up doing a completely amazing job. (If you like his art I suggest checking out his book on Benjamin Franklin: ELECTRIC BEN).

    Your suggestion for a pronunciation guide is something I'm curious about. That is, did you read the book silently or aloud? I could see about adding one to the page of online resources I’m preparing for readers. And the group that suggested another book about her --- wow! I’d have to make that one up completely as there is no further information about what happened to Margru!

    Thank you once again for reading so thoughtfully. I can’t wait to see the culminating project and chat with you via Skype in a couple of weeks.


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