Phillis Sings Out Freedom

Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley
by Ann Malaspina
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co., 2009
For ages: 5-10


This is the true story of the slave poet Phillis Wheatley who wrote a poem to General Washington in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Both Wheatley and Washington dreamed of freedom—and were determined to win it for themselves and a new nation. Phillis Sings Out Freedom will launch discussions about slavery, freedom, the American Revolution, the value of poetry, and the personal stories of Phillis Wheatley and George Washington.


“Keeter’s rich oil paintings are full of period details that help to clarify both the war scenes and Wheatley’s life….the story should help young readers to see the bigger picture of both the war and colonial life.” Booklist

“The fact that the colonists were at once fighting for their freedom from England and depriving Africans of theirs is one of the great hypocrisies of American history. The text addresses it, but the emphasis is placed on Washington’s and Wheatley’s twin triumphs, he in liberating Boston and she in publishing her poems….Keeter’s illustrations depict the depth of character of the individuals and the hardships and challenges of their environments.” Kirkus Reviews

“Including both individuals places Wheatley into chronological context and broadens the appeal of this picture book. Oil paintings help readers gain a sense of the period.” School Library Journal

“Words can be powerful allies during war, suggests this warm tribute to African-American poet Wheatley.” Publishers Weekly

Reading Guide/Activities

An educator’s guide is available on the publisher’s website.

About the Author

Ann Malaspina, a former newspaper reporter, writes multicultural picture books inspired by true events. She is the author of Finding Lincoln (Albert Whitman), Yasmin’s Hammer (Lee & Low Books), and Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley (Albert Whitman), Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper (Albert Whitman). Her next book, Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President, will be out in time for the 2012 elections.
Author’s website

School Visit Information

A good book for studying the Revolutionary War, slavery, George Washington, women in history, Black History Month, and more. Ann is available for school visits.  See her website for more information.  She will do workshops on writing nonfiction, researching biographies, the author’s journey, writing about civil rights, and more.