"To know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. We get to wanting and when we get to wanting it's bad for them. They thinks we want what they got . . . . That's why they don't want us reading." --Nightjohn
"I didn't know what letters was, not what they meant, but I thought it might be something I wanted to know. To learn." -- Sarny
Sarny, a female slave at the Waller plantation, first sees Nightjohn when he is brought there with a rope around his neck, his body covered in scars.
He had escaped north to freedom, but he came back--came back to teach reading. Knowing that the penalty for reading is dismemberment Nightjohn still retumed to slavery to teach others how to read. And twelve-year-old Sarny is willing to take the risk to learn.
Set in the 1850s, Gary Paulsen's groundbreaking new novel is unlike anything else the award-winning author has written. It is a meticulously researched, historically accurate, and artistically crafted portrayal of a grim time in our nation's past, brought to light through the personal history of two unforgettable characters.
"Nightjohn should be required reading (and discussing) for all middle grade and high school students."
--School Library Journal, Starred
"Among the most powerful of Paulsen's works, this impeccable researched novel sheds light on cruel truths in American history as it traces the experiences of a 12-year-old slave girl in the 1850s."
--Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Paulsen is at his best here."
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred
An ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults
WINNER 1997 - Indiana Young Hoosier Award
WINNER 1995 - Texas Lone Star Reading List
WINNER 1994 - Maine Student Book Master List
WINNER 1994 - ALA Best Books for Young Adults