Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Reading 2013 Mumbet's Declaration of Independence

Gretchen Woelfle has written an account of Mumbet's desire for freedom and her legal battle to achieve it. Since there are no historical records left by Mumbet (a.k.a. Elizabeth Freeman) herself, the author has taken information recorded by the daughter of Mumbet's lawyer and used it to imagine what Mumbet was feeling and thinking. It is interesting to note that tours of her owner's house focused on his accomplishments and role in history, but recently Mumbet's story has come to the forefront. In a time when the United States was fighting for it's own liberty, she decided to go to court and claim her own rights. The illustrations show the clothing and furnishings of the period and also show Mumbet as a woman in her role of servitude. The pictures underscore the point that she was not big or powerful - she simply stood up for what she knew was right.

The author's note explains that much of what is known came from letters, journals,and an essay written by someone else. There are no primary source documents from Mumbet because she could not read or write. Those facts make your wonder what other stories have been lost over time because those involved didn't have the luxury of an education and no one else recorded what happened.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical stories or books with strong female characters. It would be good to include in social studies units on slavery, colonial life, or the American Revolution. There are websites for the author and the illustrator if you would like to know more about them  and their work. The publisher has a trailer for the book.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through Netgalley. It will be published February 1, 2014.

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