Passing for White by Tanya Landman

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Passing for White by Tanya Landman

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A dyslexia-friendly book which is also a brilliant story, gently educational and exceptionally well written. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 104 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781126813

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In 1847, in Macon, Georgia, Benjamin was a slave. He was a talented carpenter too, but on November the 19th he was unnerved: a white woman was looking at him, smiling and being polite. What was going on? He wasn't just unnerved, but nervous: you see, Benjamin was looking at the white woman, looking her in the eye and a slave could get himself killed for less than that. Only this wasn't a white woman: this was Rosa, who was mixed race. She could pass for white, but she too was a slave. Rosa and Benjamin eventually married, but it didn't stop Rosa's master from taking sexual advantage of her and when she found that she was pregnant she had no way of knowing who the father was.

By Christmas 1848 Rosa and Benjamin had decided that they would try to escape to the north, where they could be free. The only way that they could do this was to travel with Rosa acting as a sickly white man accompanied by his slave. The journey was full of incident and even when they arrived in Boston life was not without its problems. The book is based on the true story of the escape of William and Ellen Craft. (You can read the full details of their escape here.

The story is aimed at teens but has a reading age of eight and it' s one which will genuinely interest teens. The way that slaves were treated is not glossed over - from the sexual abuse through to it being illegal to teach a slave to read and write - but nor is there unnecessary detail. It's gently educational - with plenty of points which are going to provoke discussion - but nothing detracts from the fact that it's a darned good story and it's one which will appeal to both male and female readers. Just as a good story, well written it's worth five stars, easily.

But - it's a Barrington Stoke book, so there are bonuses. Why is the publisher important? Well, Barrington Stoke produces books which are dyslexia friendly and they'll also help reluctant readers.

So, what makes the book dyslexia friendly? Well, firstly Barrington Stoke have designed a special font where each character is distinct and pulls the reader on to read the next word. It's printed on an off-white paper, which reduces the glare which can distract some readers and the paper is substantial enough to ensure that there's no bleed through from the reverse of the page. The spacing between words and lines has been carefully judged to give the best reading experience and the text has not been justified as this can mean that readers get lost on the page. It's not only people with dyslexia who benefit from these ingenious but simple changes - most young readers will find the books easier to read and more enjoyable. I'm just about into my dotage and recently I've been suffering from eye problems - and Barrington Stoke books are the ones which I can read most easily.

The books also acknowledge that people with dyslexia - or reluctant readers - will have the same interest level as their peer group, but they might not have the same reading age. Passing for White is suitable for young adults but the reading age is eight and there's absolutely nothing on the cover of the book to suggest that this isn't as trendy a book as their peers are reading. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then why not have a look at Unboxed by Non Pratt?

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Buy Passing for White by Tanya Landman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Passing for White by Tanya Landman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Passing for White by Tanya Landman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Passing for White by Tanya Landman at


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