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The author of The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox, seeks to inform her readers of what are often the grim realities of the human condition rather than continue some of the myths which have been perpetuated. In Horn Book, Alice Bach describes The Slave Dancer as "one of the finest examples of a writer's control over her material" and her "uncompromising integrity," as one who does not voice the conventional perspectives. For, Bach contends, the young readers of Paula Fox's work know that
Life is part grit, part disappointment, part nonsense, and occasionally victory ... And by offering children no more than the humanness we all share—child, adult, reader, writer—she acknowledges them as equals.
Through her portrayal of thirteen-year-old Jessie Bollier who works on a slave ship and "dances" the slaves for the short period that they are allowed on deck for some exercise and fresh air from the filthy hold where they are kept. It is Jessie's task to clean up, too. From their reading these and other sordid details of the slave trade, readers experience a revulsion for the inhumanity of man toward his fellow creatures. And, thus, Paula Fox has taught her young readers better than those who would hide or mollify such historical facts.“You'll see some bad things, but if you didn't see them, they'd still be happening," writes Fox herself.
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