Meet Addy: An American Girl is the first book in the Addy series. It was included with the doll when purchased until the release of BeForever and could be purchased separately; it is now part of Finding Freedom and later Addy: Finding Freedom. It is also summarized in the Random House book, Freedom for Addy.
- 1 Characters
- 2 Chapter by Chapter Summary
- 3 Items associated with Meet Addy
- 4 Book Covers
- 5 Trivia
Only in Meet Addy
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Whispers of Freedom
It is a late summer night, and Addy wakes up to hear her parents talking. It is a hot evening and the dying fire only makes it hotter in the cabin they live in. She and her baby sister Esther share a pallet—her older brother Sam has his own pallet—and Esther's hot breath causes Addy to move away from her. Her father, Poppa, notices her movements and walks over to see if she is awake. Addy lays still with her eyes closed, fighting the urge to sit up and ask what her parents are talking about. Poppa decides she's asleep, citing that she's worn out from working in the tobacco fields with the other enslaved children.
Addy quietly listens in on Momma and Poppa talking. The two are discussing a potential plan for running away from the plantation they are on to get their freedom. Momma is apprehensive about leaving as she thinks that the war will end and give them their freedom, and there is no harm in waiting for freedom to come. Poppa insists that they should leave soon—the Union soldiers are too far away from their plantation and he can't wait much longer to be free. He also notes that the war has made money tight and that the enslaved people on the nearby Gifford plantation were sold since they couldn't be fed and clothed. Momma protests that Master Stevens would never sell them as she does the sewing and Poppa does the carpentry and the family works hard for him. Poppa points out that Sam is an exception; he is surly and hot-headed, grumbles about working, wants to fight in the war. Aside from that, he has already run off once and may get the whole family in trouble.
Addy remembers when Sam ran off and was caught—it was just before Esther was born. After his capture he was tied to a tree and whipped until he bled. Addy cried while her parents did not; they stood there blankly. She later accused them of not caring about him, and Poppa explained to her that they didn't cry on the outside, but inside, as they are not free to show feelings. He then explains that on the inside, a person is always free.
The freedom being discussed, however, is the kind enslaved people run away to get. Addy keeps listening. Momma is worried that Sam will run away again and they will never find him, and she wants her family to stay together. Poppa tells of a plan; Uncle Solomon has mentioned a set of railroad tracks several miles away, past the river near the Gifford plantation. If the family follows the tracks north til they cross another set of tracks, there will be a red house with white shutters that belongs to an old white woman named Miss Caroline; if they get that far, they can get to freedom. Addy is frightened and clings to her doll Janie; she has never heard her parents talk about running away before and they always hush Sam when he starts in on the topic.
Momma says that if they are caught, the family will be broken up for sure. Poppa says that they have to take that chance and Momma can't back out now. Momma says she's scared, as she's never been further than the Gifford Plantation and Poppa wants to take them all the way to Philadelphia. Poppa reassures Momma that they will stay together and God is watching over them; they must have faith they will make it North. Momma protests again that they should wait, and Poppa says that it hurts him to watch Addy working in the fields and bent over like an old woman at such a young age; every day she goes out hopeful and comes back tired and sad. Sam is fifteen and Esther's a baby; Addy however, is nine, and at the age where she's getting crushed every day by slavery; Poppa can't take watching this happen to her any more, and they must run away. Addy waits for Momma to respond to Poppa, but there is no response. Poppa covers the coals with ashes and her parents lay down to sleep. Addy feels she must keep this secret to herself; she scoots closer to Esther and goes to sleep.
Chapter Two: Sold!
Early the next morning Addy is out working the tobacco fields; she and the other children are worming the plants. Addy hates this task, as it involves removing large tobacco worms and killing them. She instead pictures what life will be like in freedom after her family runs away; she pictures lovely dresses made by Momma instead of her rough cotton shift, learning how to read and write, and Poppa earning money and buying them enough food so that they won't ever be hungry.
At eleven in the morning, Addy finishes up her worming rows and fetches water for the older field hands. The job is hard, but Addy likes doing it because sometimes she sees Sam or Poppa. Today she sees Sam, who has a riddle for her--"what's smaller than a dog but can put a bear on the run?" As Addy thinks about the answer, Sam ladles some water over his head; the overseer sees him and snarls that the water's only for drinking. Sam scowls, saying that even horses stop to cool themselves. Addy says that she'll move on before the overseer comes back; Sam says she can stay as he's still drinking, and Addy hasn't answered the riddle. Addy sees the overseer has left and provides the correct answer for Sam's riddle - a skunk. Sam teases that soon Addy will be riddling him. Addy feels the urge to tell Sam what she heard but she keeps it inside. She finishes giving water to the other field hands, then heads to the kitchen to help Auntie Lula with dinner (lunch).
As soon as Addy arrives, Auntie Lula has her wash her hands well and take a tray into the dining room. The dinner smells delicious; Addy only had cornmeal mush for breakfast and will only have that for lunch. She hopes for some scraps later. Addy carries the tray in to Master Stevens, who is entertaining a guest—another white man Addy doesn't know. Addy sets the tray down and pours water for them, and then waits in the corner quietly. The strange man says Addy is trained well, and Master Stevens says that his slaves are trained well, which is why it's a shame to sell any of them. Addy listens in as Master Stevens says he doesn't have enough money to clothe and feed all twenty-two slaves and he needs more. Addy stares at the floor blankly so that the men don't realized that she's listening in.
The man asks how Master Stevens is sure the boy that he's buying won't run away again; Master Stevens says he taught him a lesson with the whip and and it's also selling his father to the man, who he's sure will keep him in line. Addy realizes in horror that Master Stevens is talking about Sam and Poppa. The strange man calls Addy over to pour him more water, and Addy comes over. As she's pouring, the strange man cups his hand around her chin and asks Master Stevens if he’ll part with her as well. Addy keeps the blank look, even though she wants to scream, and starts pouring water for Master Stevens. Master Stevens says that he won't sell her yet despite the rising selling price of house servants; she's much too young now. Addy neglects her task in her listening and overfills Master Steven's glass. Master Stevens points out this as an example of Addy needing more training and yells at her to get a rag to clean up the mess she's made.
Addy leaves quickly and runs to the kitchen, telling Auntie Lula what she heard. Auntie Lula thinks fast and tells Addy to go fill her water bucket and take water to the field straight to Poppa and Sam. She must act like it's time for afternoon water, head straight to them, and tell them what is happening so as to give them a chance to try and run away. Addy grabs her bucket, praying as she fills it, and runs to the fields to search for Sam and Poppa. She doesn't notice the overseer, who blocks her path and asks her what she's doing. Addy says she's bringing afternoon water, but the overseer snaps that it's not time for that and sends her away. Addy is forced to pick up the bucket and runs back to the kitchen. Momma and Esther are now there as Momma has been informed by Auntie Lula. Auntie Lula says she saw Master Stevens and the other man heading to the barn. Addy races out the door to try and see if there is one last chance, ignoring her mother's calls to wait.
Addy gets to the field and sees a wagon; inside is Sam, gagged and bound with shackles on his hands and feet; Master Stevens—who is holding a whip—the other white man, and two more are near the wagon. Addy reaches the wagon and begs Master Stevens not to sell Sam; he orders Addy to leave. Addy stops where she is and hears another voice telling her to go; she turns to see Poppa being chained by the overseer and hysterically flings herself at him, crying. Poppa tries to reassure Addy with his voice. Master Stevens again orders Addy to leave and hits her with the whip; Addy doesn't let go and Master Stevens finally pulls her away forcibly. Addy falls backwards into Momma's arms—Momma had come after her—and they hold each other close, crying, as Poppa and Sam are taken away.
Chapter Three: A New Plan
A week has passed since Poppa and Sam were sold; Addy is once again worming tobacco plants. Addy is not thinking about her work; she is still severely saddened at the loss of her father and brother. She thinks of her own riddle: what's heavy as a pail of water, but still empty. She answers her own riddle—her heart. She gets to the end of the second row and the overseer comes to check her work. Addy starts on the next row when she sees the overseer storming towards her. She tries to run but he catches her; he holds her tight with one hand. He opens his other hand to show that it is full of live worms that Addy has missed in her previous rows. He forces her mouth open and stuffs the worms in. Addy chokes and is told by the overseer that if she doesn't eat them that he'll get more. Addy gags, but chews up the worms. Satisfied that this will teach Addy to mind her work, the overseer shoves her away and she crumples to the ground.
That evening, when Momma comes home with Esther, Addy is curled up on her pallet covered in dirt and there is no fire in the hearth. Momma sets Esther down and prods Addy into getting up, asking what happened. Addy sadly tells her momma what the overseer had done to her, crying. momma comforts her and Addy says she hates white people. Momma begs her not to hate anyone, and gets some water to wash the tears and dirt from Addy's face. Addy asks Momma if she hates white people, and Momma says that she does not. She tells Addy that if her heart is filled with hate, there will be no room to love, and Poppa and Sam need their love. Addy protests white people must hate them, because they treat them poorly. Momma says that not all white people hate colored people; it's just that they've done wrong for so long that they don't realize it's wrong and they are hurting people; she never wants Addy to be that kind of person. Esther begins crying and Addy gives her Janie to keep her quiet.
Momma says she must speak to Addy seriously for a moment, about what she and Poppa were planning before he and Sam were sold. Addy blurts out that she knows that she and Poppa were planning for the family to run away, revealing she was listening to them that night. Momma says that they are still going. Addy asks if they should wait for Poppa and Sam and Momma says that they won't ever come back to the plantation, and that since the plan was to leave tomorrow night that she will stick to that plan. She never though that Master Stevens would break up the family, but after what he's done she does not feel that she can keep Addy from being sold, and she won't sit and wait any longer. Addy reveals that she's frightened, but she wants to go to freedom.
Momma directs Addy to reach under her pallet; there are two kerchiefs with clothes for a man and a boy. Momma's plan is to fill the kerchiefs with food and water gourds, and she and Addy will wear the clothes as they run away. Not only will the clothes disguise them, it will hide their scent from the dogs tracking them. Addy says that Uncle Solomon and Aunt Lula should come to freedom—Uncle Solomon knows where the safe house is, and Momma says they are too old to come and can't run. Addy says that Esther can't run but she'll be coming too. Momma goes quiet and Addy asks her what's wrong; Momma says that Esther won't be coming with them. Addy insists they can't leave Esther, and Momma says she'll be staying behind. It was different, when Sam and Poppa could carry her, but Momma can't carry her by herself, and Esther might cry and give them away. Addy offers to carry her and let her hold Janie, but Momma says she can't do it. It's very hard to leave Esther, but Momma is sure that she'll be safe with Auntie Lula and Uncle Solomon; she's a baby, so there is little worry of her being sold.
There is silence, and then Momma says that it will only be for a while because once the war ends they'll got get Esther and whole family will come back together. Momma tells Addy to lay down and rest, and Addy asks if they can all sleep together on the same pallet. Momma agrees, and the three of them crowd together on Addy's pallet. Addy tries to fight tears as she scoots close to Esther, but she cries anyways.
Chapter Four: Into The Night
The next night, after the sun has set fully, Auntie Lula and Uncle Solomon come to the Walker's cabin. Addy and Momma have dressed. Uncle Solomon has two hats—he gives the straw one to Addy's mother and a felt one to Addy. He tries to cheer Addy up by saying the hat is magic, Addy doesn't smile, and Uncle Solomon pulls a half dime from behind Addy's ear and gives it to her, saying that freedom's got a cost. Auntie Lula hands Momma a kerchief packed with food for the trip. Momma picks up Esther and kisses her all over; Addy looks to see if Momma's crying but there are no outside tears. Addy kisses Esther as well, then gives her Janie to keep until she sees her again. Momma hands Esther to Auntie Lula, who promises they'll take good care of Esther and be right there once they come back. Uncle Solomon tells Momma and Addy to walk through any water they come across, even puddles, to avoid leaving much of a scent; he also says to watch out for Confederate soldiers as they will bring them back to slavery. The two leave the cabin and Esther begins to cry; Addy tries to look back for a final look but her eyes are full of tears.
Addy and Momma walk through the dark forest for hours, stumbling over things. The deeper into the woods they get the more scared Addy gets, until she screams at a dark form moving near them. Momma clamps her hand over Addy's mouth and tells her she can't scream like that; it was probably just a possum or skunk. Addy feels bad as she screamed louder than Esther would have; she resolves to keep her feeling inside. Addy and momma make their way through the forest, and Addy does not cry out any more, not even when she stubs her toes. The sky starts lightening and Addy says they should stop soon. They go a little further to a cave and hide inside to sleep. When they awake, it's hot and muggy; they share some dry cornbread and water. Momma reaches into the kerchief again and takes out a cowrie shell. The shell belonged to Poppa's grandmother, Aduke who was stolen from Africa when she was Addy's age and sold into slavery; her name was given to Addy and means "much loved". Addy asks to hold the shell, and Momma gives her one of Sam's shoelaces to string the shell on and wear as a necklace. Addy says that her great-grandma was brave to come across the water alone and she wants to be brave like her; Momma says that Addy is brave and that while Aduke's journey ended in slavery, Addy's will take her to freedom. Addy asks if Esther will remember them all; Momma says she's not sure but she believes that Auntie Lula won't let her forget. Addy falls asleep thinking about Esther back on the plantation and think that maybe she's thinking about Addy.
Once night comes, Addy and Momma leave the cave and start walking again. They make their way to the river, which they must cross. Momma sounds scared but knows they must cross it. Addy is worried; while she can swim, the water is moving swiftly and Momma can't swim at all. They start into the water and make their way slowly across. Near the center the current starts to pull at them, dragging them sideways and away from shore. Momma fights to stay above water; suddenly a swell of water drags Momma away from Addy and she goes under. Addy fights a scream and dives under, trying to find Momma. Her first dive is unsuccessful as she tries to stay where Momma is; her second dive she lets the current take her along and gets caught by a fallen tree where Momma has been caught. She grabs Momma and shoves her to the surface, and the two struggle to shore. When she can finally speak, Addy asks Momma if she is okay; Momma says that Addy saved her and she's a brave girl. They stumble into the woods. Momma has lost her kerchief and her hat is damaged; Addy still has her hat. She reaches around her neck to make sure she still has her shell; she does, but there is also a leech she quickly peels off.
After more hours of traveling, they come to the train tracks. They have to be careful as near the tracks there are few places to hide. They follow the tracks until the morning, then make a shelter from dead pine trees to sleep. Addy curls up next to her mother. Momma says that she's very proud of Addy and Addy is soothed by her heartbeat.
Chapter Five: Freedom Taken
Addy and Momma are awoken by a low rumbling; they creep out of the shelter to see a train coming down the tracks. They watch it head to a curve in the tracks and then curve to the right. Addy is puzzled at first, the realizes that there is a set of tracks that she can't see and so they must be near where the tracks cross. Addy is excited that they must be near the safe house and the two run towards where the tracks cross. Addy scampers forward, chattering about them going to Philadelphia and being all together again. Momma warns Addy to not get high hopes; Addy doesn't hear her and dashes forward. She sees a light and believing it to be the safe house, she runs towards it with Momma far behind her. Once she gets close she realizes she's wrong; the light is from a campfire, with men around it. Addy is about to leave when one of the men calls out and sees her. She realizes that she has wandered into a Confederate campsite. The man calls her "boy" and tells Addy to get him some water. It takes a moment for Addy to realize that the soldier means her. She sees the bucket is on the other side of camp. She is scared she may get caught and captured, but she walks strongly and makes her way through the camp, getting the water bucket and taking it to the soldier. The soldier assumes the train scared her, then tells her to go back to sleep. Addy wants to leave, but lays down on the edge of the clearing and pretends to sleep; she waits until she hears the man snoring, then quietly creeps away from the camp, feeling she must warn Momma. She is grabbed just as she's far enough to run; it is Momma, who pulls her close. She has seen the whole interaction with the soldiers and is proud Addy kept her feelings inside the whole time.
The two continue along the tracks until they reach where the tracks cross; up a hill is the white house with the red shutters. Momma and Addy walk towards the house; there's no lights inside, and Momma is nervous that this house isn't safe. Addy says they have to trust this place. They walk up to the house and Momma knocks on the door twice. A light starts glowing in the house and the door is opened by an old white woman. Addy asks Miss Caroline to help them; the woman scowls and tells Addy to go away as she won't help the soldiers, mistaking her for a boy. Addy sticks her foot in the door and says she's not a boy, taking her hat off to show her braids. Miss Caroline softens and rushes them into the house. She compliments them on their disguises; she had assumed the two were with the Confederate soldiers, whom she refuses to help. Miss Caroline starts working, starting a fire and setting plates. Momma offers to help but is told to rest. Miss Caroline asks who sent them and Momma says Uncle Solomon. Miss Caroline has known Solomon for fifty years, since they were children on farms next to each other. Addy and her mother are served a meal of rice and boiled greens; Miss Caroline leaves the kitchen and comes back with a bundle of clothes for them to try on. In the morning she'll take them to the coast and they can catch a ship to Philadelphia from there—they will leave before sunup before the soldiers come around again. Addy offers Miss Caroline her half dime and Miss Caroline turns it down as she feels it is thanks enough that she is helping them to freedom after they have come quite far. Addy and Momma take a long bath and they sleep in a warm bed together. Addy tries to stay awake but is too tired.
The next day before sunrise, they get ready to leave. Momma has put on a simple brown dress, and Addy is wearing a cinnamon pink dress with white stripes. Miss Caroline has also found her drawers and a straw bonnet. Momma's eyes fill with tears; she wishes Poppa could see her. Addy and Momma get into the wagon, where Miss Caroline covers them with sacks. As they head towards the docks, Addy touches her necklace again and thinks of Esther, Sam, Poppa, and Aduke and all their love. She whispers to Momma that they have taken their freedom.
Looking Back: America in 1864
Discusses black history, American chattle slavery and America during the Civil War. Topics discussed:
- The first Africans in America, and how most came as slaves after being captured
- How many enslaved people worked on plantations in both the house and field, and their living conditions and punishments
- How enslaved people made their own families and culture based on past African tradition
- Phillis Wheatley and Benjamin Banneker
- Spirituals and their role in coded messages
- How enslaved people fought their treatment privately
- The abolishment of slavery in the northern states and it finally becoming illegal to import slaves in 1808; however, slavery continued past that
- Abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass
- The Underground Railroad
- The secession of the southern states in 1861 and the start of the Civil War
- President Abraham Lincoln's role in the war
- The Emancipation Proclamation and the Confederate States' deliberate ignorance towards it.
Items associated with Meet Addy
- Addy's great-grandmother's name, Aduke, is Yoruba; this narrows down her tribe to the Yoruba of Western Africa.
- When Addy debuted in 1993, an excerpt from Chapter Four of Meet Addy was published in the Sept/Oct 1993 issue of American Girl Magazine under the title of the chapter.
- A 35th anniversary edition of the the second edition book was released with the accompanying doll; there are several changes. The illustrations are the 1998 illustrations by Dahl Taylor and the descriptions of White and Black for people are now capitalized. Multiple sections of the Looking Back section were changed to refer to Black Americans as enslaved persons/people or Black people rather than the prior repeated references to "slave," which is now rarely used to refer to Black enslaved people. The first paragraph is adjusted to emphasize that Black Americans were brought to the United States on ships by slave traders rather then emphasizing their enslavement. A sentence describing enslaved people's cabins is removed. A sentence about jazz being the only music originally created in the US is removed (as this is untrue given genres such as rap, hip hop, and Hawaiian music). Addy's full advisory board is listed on the last page with the author and illustrator credits.