November 17, 2017

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Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome | SLJ Review

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redstarCLINE-RANSOME, Lesa. Before She was Harriet. illus. by James E. Ransome. 32p. Holiday House. Nov. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780823420476.

Gr 3-6 –Before and after Harriet Tubman became the stalwart conductor leading enslaved people to freedom on the Underground Railroad, she played many remarkable roles during her long life. Cline-Ransome honors Tubman in lyrical verse, beginning when the heroine is “tired and worn/her legs stiff/her back achy.” In each stanza, Tubman looks back to the time “before she was an old woman.” She recalls speaking out against injustice as a suffragist providing “a voice for women/who had none/in marriages/in courts/in voting booths.” She recollects everything she accomplished during the Civil War, spying for the Union and nursing the wounded. Looking back even farther, she remembers leading her people out of bondage and then her own arduous years in the slave owners’ fields. Before all of this, Tubman was a little girl named Araminta who dreamed of the time she would “leave behind slavery/along with her name/and pick a new one/Harriet.” Each episode in her compelling life is illustrated by a luminous watercolor. The expertly done expressive paintings evoke Tubman’s strength and integrity showing “the wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion.” VERDICT This lovely tribute effectively communicates Tubman’s ­everlasting bravery and resolve, and will ­inspire curious readers to learn more.–Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2017 issue.

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Comments

  1. peri monte says:

    needs photos does it have them? any book about a “real person” NEEDS PHOTOS if they can be had. illustrations r wonderful but photos hit home with the facts. Very important to children. especially for primary grades.

  2. peri monte says:

    Photos please . Illustrations are wonderful but photos ring true especially for children.

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