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Book Review and Giveaway: Priscilla and the Hollyhocks. Ends February 2012

Priscilla and the Hollyhocks written by Anne Broyles and illustrated by Anna Alter.

Priscilla is a slave in the Big House. The hollyhocks her mother planted by the cow pond are all Priscilla has left to remember her by. When Master dies, Priscilla is sold to a Cherokee family. Another plantation, same life. Based on a true story, Priscilla and the Hollyhocks follows Priscilla from her early years on a Southern plantation to her forced march along the Trail of Tears to the chance encounter that leads to her freedom. On her journey from slave to free woman, Priscilla carries something precious with her: hollyhock seeds… and hope.

Author’s Note

Different versions of this story have been told, but a young slave named Priscilla did live out the events detailed in Priscilla and the Hollyhocks. Priscilla was a house servant on a Georgiaplantation. She met an Illinoisinnkeeper named Barzilla (Basil or Bazil) Silkwood when he visited her master (name unknown) sometime in the mid-1830s. When her master died, the girl was purchased by a Cherokee man. Many Cherokees, in an effort to adapt to European American settlers’ ways, farmed large properties and owned slaves, although not all members of the tribe approved of slavery.

As the American population spread westward, many Native Americans found they were fighting a losing battle with the United States government. In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, a law that made it easier for the government to move Native Americans from coveted land in the East to less desirable “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi River. In 1838 the government rounded up more than sixteen thousand Cherokees and forced them to move. Over four thousand Cherokees died on this “Trail of Tears” due to illness, malnutrition, and exhaustion.

As a Cherokee family’s slave, Priscilla accompanied her owners, walking over five hundred miles in bitterly cold weather. Amazingly enough, as Priscilla was passing through Jonesboro, Illinois, she happened to see Basil Silkwood standing on the porch of the Willard Hotel. He listened to Priscilla’s story, followed to where she was camped, and paid one thousand dollars in gold for Priscilla’s freedom. He then took Priscilla home to Mulkeytown, Illinois. Basil and his wife, Mariah, adopted her into their family. A child of one of Priscilla’s adoptive brothers later wrote, “She was just one of the sixteen children that Uncle Bazil and his wife raised. They had no children of their own. Priscilla was treated just as good as the other children were.”

Priscilla outlived Basil and Mariah and inherited forty acres of land, as did each of the other adopted children. Priscilla died in 1892 and was buried beside the Silkwoods near the Silkwood Inn (the family home). Today the inn is a historic site and museum. The seeds from Priscilla’s flowers, now commonly known as Priscilla’s hollyhocks, have been shared by gardeners since 1839.

Anne Broyles

My Review: This is a well written story based on facts. Anne Broyles takes us on a journey into Priscilla’s childhood as she is sold from one family to another until she found Massa Silkwood who set her free and adopted her into his family of fifteen. Priscilla was not only saved by Mr. Silkwood but also by hollyhocks. Old Sylvia told her how her mother will make hollyhock dolls and set it to sail on the cow pond. When she watches her flower dolls float on the cow pond she felt her mother’s smile. Is show how the flowers represented a strong memory of her mother who was sold when she was a very young child. Priscilla always had a hand full of seeds with her and planed them where ever she went. She was sold to a Cherokee family when her master died. Read about the brief history of the Cherokee as they were told to leave their homes and lands.  Priscilla found freedom and a happy life thereafter. Great illustrations by Anna Alter which capture the story. I highly recommend this book for every schools and libraries.

Ages: 4 -8

Pages: 32

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion in any way.



This Giveaway is Open to the US ONLY – Author is giving a copy to 1 winner. Giveaway Ends February 2012.

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September 26, 2011 - Posted by | Book Review, Free Giveaways | , , , , , , , ,


  1. I am really glad to learn about this interesting teacher/author…She writes about very important
    historical events in a way that children and adults can relate to!
    Many thanks, Cindi

    Comment by Cindi | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. I had previously read a great novel that included information on the Cherokees owning slaves. Also it went into a young slave girls walk on the Trail of Tears. The book is ABRAHAMS WELL and I can’t recommend it enough. It is a YA book. The fact that this book is based on a true story and is for a younger audience is so exicitig. I can’t wait to buy this for my 6yr old twin grandchildren.

    Comment by Kathleen Bianchi (@joekathbia) | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  3. I really enjoyed your review, Ella. This book sounds fascinating and I learned some new things just by reading the review. I didn’t know that Cherokees actually bought and operated their own land.
    This would be a great book for a child to read so they could also learn some historical events as well.
    Great review.

    Comment by Grace | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  4. I think my kids could benefit from reading a story about a child who has been though alot. And the simple mementos can mean alot even if its something simple.

    Comment by Larissa brunken | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  5. This was a very informative post for me. I never knew the Cherokee had slaves and I read tons of History books. What an educational book for our children to read. Thank you.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | September 27, 2011 | Reply

  6. This sounds like an interesting way to learn about American history. I think it’s important to show children both the positive and negative aspects of our past.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

    Comment by domestic diva | September 28, 2011 | Reply

  7. This is a wonderful story and very important for children to hear.

    Comment by Patricia Wojnar Crowley | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  8. I read this(Priscilla’s hollyhocks) story to my daughter, we have a memory flower garden. It would be so nice if this book listed sources for the seeds for this flower. I have been searching and have not found where I might buy this. Please help!

    Comment by Brenda | February 7, 2013 | Reply

    • From the Author – I was not able to find authentic Priscilla’s Hollyhock seeds, but American Meadows has some that are similar:

      Comment by mymcbooks | February 7, 2013 | Reply

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