“When Mary’s mother was young, she had been taken against her will to Jamaica, from her home in Africa. On Jamaica she was a slave, like thousands of other black people. They were made to work very hard and were not free people. Mary’s mother was lucky because after a while she was given her freedom back…”

“England was not at all like Jamaica. Because there were not many black people, Mary looked different. Some people pointed at her and called her unkind names because of the colour of her skin. When she was older, Mary wrote about how children had made fun of her.”

This is a short, simple account of Mary Seacole’s life, with lots of “real” pictures (photographs and contemporary engravings or other images of the people and places mentioned). Suitable probably for children from about the age of three or four on up, it covers the main ground without either talking down to the reader or making things too confusing / difficult to understand. We like it.

It’s also a great way to start talking about slavery, racism, and the position of women in general and black women in particular. We have also spent quite a while talking about what war is and why people do it and how much hurt it causes.