Jessie plays his flute to earn extra money to help his family stay afloat. New Orleans in 1840 teems with sailors, many of whom were generous with their pennies when Jessie played for them.
Then Jessie is kidnapped and dumped aboard a slaving ship. The captain wants his music skills to “dance” the slaves to keep their bodies strong and increase his profits.
Jessie feels sick – first out of concern for his mother and sister. What will they think of him?
Then he feels sick over his role in slaving. He sees how working on a slaver affects himself, his fellow sailors and even the captain – not to mention the people destined to be slaves.
His time aboard The Moonlight changes Jessie, his music and the direction of his life.
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox won the Newberry Honor Medal in the early 1970’s – and still worth reading today. It’s a real look at the horrors of transporting slaves from Africa to America.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.