Skip to Main Content

Book Club Kits: Copper Sun

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

Cover Image

Sharon Draper

Check Availability

To request this kit, click link above.

Alamance County Public Libraries

Alamance County Public Libraries provide free and open access to lifelong learning, resources for everyday living, and reading for pleasure in a welcoming environment.  Our collections, services and programs enhance the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Contact the Library webmaster.

Alamance County Public Libraries operates as a Department of Alamance County Government.  Visit the Alamance County Website at

Book Summary

When pale strangers enter fifteen-year-old Amari's village, her entire tribe welcomes them; for in her remote part of Africa, visitors are always a cause for celebration. But these strangers are not here to celebrate. They are here to capture the strongest, healthiest villagers and to murder the rest. They are slave traders. And in the time it takes a gun to fire, Amari's life as she knows it is destroyed, along with her family and village.

Beaten, branded, and dragged onto a slave ship, Amari is forced to witness horrors worse than any nightmare and endure humiliations she had never thought possible--including being sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas who gives her to his sixteen-year-old son, Clay, as his birthday present.

Now, survival and escape are all Amari dreams about. As she struggles to hold on to her memories in the face of backbreaking plantation work and daily degradation at the hands of Clay, she finds friendship in unexpected places. Polly, an outspoken indentured white girl, proves not to be as hateful as she'd first seemed upon Amari's arrival, and the plantation owner's wife, despite her trappings of luxury and demons of her own, is kind to Amari.

But these small comforts can't relieve Amari's feelings of hopelessness and despair. With strength and dignity, Amari first learns to survive, then yearns to escape to a most unlikely destination. When the opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Polly decide to work together to find the thing they both want most--freedom.

Decorated with vibrant characters--Teenie, the tiny slave woman who cooks much more than food, her son Tidbit and his dog Hushpuppy who become victims of vicious cruelty, the mysterious and kindly Mrs. Derby, and many others--the complicated inter-relationships of those who live together on the plantation are explored with sometimes shocking developments.

Grand and sweeping in scope, detailed and penetrating, Copper Sun's unflinching and unforgettable look at the African slave trade and slavery in America will have the impact on young readers that Alex Haley's Roots had on the previous generation.

Discussion Questions

  • Copper Sun is a work of historical fiction. How does the merging of history and fiction in a novel affect the reader’s response to the story?

  • What do you know of the village of Ziavi from the descriptions given in the text? How would you describe the social structure, family structure, and cultural structure of the community? How did the custom of graciousness to guests become a death sentence for the town? Explain why the Ashanti helped the European killers.

  • As the ship is approaching the Carolina coast, Amari is surprised by the beauty of the land she sees before her.  She tells Afi, “…the land is lovely. I thought it must surely be an ugly place.” Why is she surprised to find that America is a beautiful place? What does Afi mean when she says, “Find beauty wherever you can child. It will keep you alive.”?

  • Amari is purchased as a birthday gift for Clay Derby the same day that Mr. Derby purchases Polly’s indenture. How is an indentured servant different from a salve? How are they similar? Does Polly really have it any better than the slaves on Mr. Derby’s plantation?

  • It is clear early on to Amari that the lives of the slaves do not carry the same value as the lives of the whites. Describe some instances in the story that prove this idea. Why did the white people think it was OK to treat the slaves the way that they did? Can you think of any examples in modern society where a group of people are treated differently because of the color of their skin or their country of origin? Why do people mistreat other people?

  • On the plantation, the slaves greatly outnumber the owner and overseers. Why didn’t the slaves take advantage of their greater numbers and rebel?

  • The night that Mrs. Derby’s baby is born, the slaves are terrified for their lives, but they tried to help her anyway. Why were they so afraid? Why did they try to help? What were Mr. Derby’s social and legal justifications for what he did to Noah and the baby?

  • Discuss Dr. Hoskins. Why didn’t he try to intervene to save Noah and the baby? Why did he let Amari, Polly and Tidbit go free?

  • Discuss Amari, Polly and Tidbits experiences on the road. Were you surprised that they found people willing to help them along the way. Fiona O’Reilly, for example, gives them clothes, food and a wagon, yet she owns slaves herself. How can she justify helping Amari, Polly and Tidbit escape but not see that it is wrong to own slaves?

  • Discuss the gradual developing of the relationship between Polly and Amari. How is each girl unique? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? What does each girl offer that the other needs? What makes a friendship?

  • How is Amari able to accept and love the child she is carrying, despite the fact that the child’s father treated her so badly? 

  • Is Fort Mose all that Amari, Polly and Tidbit  hoped it would be? Why or why not?