• US Edition

Passenger on the Pearl

The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

In 1848, thirteen-year-old Emily Edmonson, five of her siblings, and seventy other enslaved people boarded the Pearl under cover of night in Washington, D.C., hoping to sail north to freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold into even crueler conditions. Through Emily Edmonson’s journey from enslaved person to teacher at a school for African American young women, Conkling illuminates the daily lives of enslaved people, the often changing laws affecting them, and the high cost of a failed escape.

“Clearly written, well-documented, and chock full of maps, sidebars, and reproductions of photographs and engravings, the fascinating volume covers a lot of history in a short space. Conkling uses the tools of a novelist to immerse readers in Emily’s experiences. A fine and harrowing true story.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[Passenger on the Pearl] covers information about slavery that is often not found in other volumes . . . Conkling’s work is intricate and detailed . . . A strong and well-sourced resource.” —School Library Journal

“Conkling is a fine narrator . . . Readers familiar with the trials of Solomon Northup will find this equally involving.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Edmondson’s life story is compelling and inspiring. It provides the perfect hook for readers into the horrors of slavery.” —VOYA

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The Author

Winifred Conkling

Winifred Conkling (she/her) studied journalism in college and later worked as a writer and editor at various newspapers and magazines. She has written more than 30 non-fiction books for grown-ups and a number of highly regarded non-fiction books for young people, including Ms. Gloria Steinem, Heroism Begins with Her, Hidden Figures (co-authored with Margot Lee Shetterly), Votes for Women!, Radioactive!, and Passenger on the Pearl. She’s adapted various adult nonfiction titles for young readers including The Light of Days by Judy Batalion, American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley, Exploring the White House by Kate Andersen Brower, Craig and Fred by Craig Grossi, and works by Bret Baier (Three Days at the Brink, Three Days in January, and Three Days in Moscow).

She has loved writing since third grade when she taught herself to type, and she went on to become a journalist and author of adult non-fiction books, rediscovering her love of children’s books when she became a mother. She has also taught reading to inmates at a maximum-security prison, run a marathon, spent the night in a dung hut with Samburu warriors, and volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.

She lives in Northern Virginia and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts.

Visit her website at winifredconkling.com.

Winifred is represented by Kristin Ostby.

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