Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Families Building Character Together - 7 Miles to Freedom Review/Giveaway

Note: this is a repost from my old blog w/ some new additions. The story is a good one & important as it teaches about honesty, diligence and perseverance. This would be a great book to have in any home, library or school classroom.

Seven Miles to FreedomSeven Miles to Freedom
by Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Duane Smith
ISBN: 9781600602320

Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp.  Now that moment was here.

Robert stood proudly at the Planter's wheel.  Only 7 miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory.  With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet.  Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family and his crew mates, the risk was worth taking.

Seven Miles to Freedom is the compelling account of the daring escape of Robert Smalls, a slave steamboat wheel man who became one of the Civil War's greatest hereos.  His steadfast courage in the face of adversity is an inspiring model for all who attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.


A short interview with Janet Halfmann

1) How did you learn about Robert Smalls and what made you want to write a story about his flight for freedom?

I learned about Robert Smalls while researching minority achievements. I wanted to spotlight a little-known person of color who had done something great, because so many of these amazing accomplishments have been all but lost to history.

I chose to write about Smalls’ flight to freedom because the event showed how important freedom was to him and other African-Americans, and also because the escape demonstrated his amazing courage and determination. The flight to freedom also was a riveting story, that I was sure kids would want to read.

Photobucket2) How difficult was it to do the research on Robert Smalls? Was it difficult to get background information and to tell an accurate story?

Some of the primary sources were very difficult to track down. But I also found some amazing resources right under my nose. It turns out that all of the correspondence of both the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War have been compiled in books, and those books are now online and searchable. So I could read Admiral DuPont’s report on his meeting with Robert Smalls right after the escape, the explanation of the fort guard as to why he didn’t stop Smalls’ boat, etc.

It also happened that DuPont was writing a letter to his wife when Robert Smalls was brought to him, and that letter is in a book of the Admiral’s letters. The official Robert Smalls website,, and its owner also were very helpful.

3) What character trait of Robert Smalls the main character do you think is most visible? You can check this list of traits @ if you can't think of one. And why?

I think Robert Smalls’ bravery is the most visible in the story. He knew that he was risking his life, and that of his family, for freedom. But I think he felt confident that he would succeed.

Purchase it:
You can purchase this book on Amazon for $17.95 and FREE shipping is available with a $25 order. Click here to order

Win It:
The author has generously offered a copy of Seven Miles to Freedom to one of my lucky readers!


  1. Thanks so much for including my book in your "Families Building Character Together" event. Robert Smalls was such an amazing role model. I feel honored that I was allowed to share his story.

  2. I would love to haveGood Night, Little Sea Otter

  3. I think I would like Good night little sea otter or fur and feathers

  4. Fur & Feathers looks good too
    GFC Follower

  5. Wr are eorking on Honesty, & putting others first :)