Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Reading 2017 Before She Was Harriet


There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and free." 

While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - horse-drawn buggies, ladies in long skirts and wide hats at a suffragette meeting, boats slipping across a river to freedom - the text is just as lovely. Lines like, "before her voice became soft and raspy it was loud and angry rising above injustice," capture her spirit. The spirit that was in "a wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion." 

Some of my favorite scenes are those with Harriet in the night, clutching her walking stick, or looking up at the stars with her father. But I think the one I like best of all shows Harriet being helped onto a train by a Pullman Porter. It links all she did to free her people with the continued struggle and long road to the Civil Rights era.

This is a must for school libraries and public library children's collections.

I received an advance copy from the publisher for review purposes.

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