Having recently finished the first book in the American Girl Addy series, I have moved on to the second book. Addy Learns a Lesson: A School Story by Connie Porter and illustrated by Melodye Rosales, Renée Graef, and Jane S. Varda.
This book picks up very shortly after the first book ends, with Addy and her mother having just landed in Philadelphia on the boat they were waiting to get on at the end of the first book. This is ostensibly the story of Addy and her mother beginning to acclimate to freedom and starting to build their lives in Philadelphia. It is also a story about how freedom isn’t magically the paradise that Addy hoped it would be.
I appreciate that this book does a good job of exploring how simply escaping slavery does not make life paradise. When you come into a new world with no money or resources (although Addy and her mother are not without help), things are still hard and you still may lack a lot of things that you want.
This book also puts a high value on reading and that is the first skill Addy wishes that she had when she arrives in Philadelphia. This could be seen as a self-reinforcing lesson for a children’s book, but it’s also a very real struggle to not be able to read in a city that relies on street signs and newspaper ads for jobs and words everywhere.
It’s been a long time since I read this book and I am looking forward to getting more into it again. I remember some drama with a girl at school, so it will be interesting to see how that is incorporated into this book which is otherwise so much a story about adapting to a new world that isn’t everything that you hoped it would be.