December 12, 2017

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Facing Frederick by Tonya Bolden | SLJ Review

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redstarBOLDEN, Tonya. Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man. 208p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. reprods. Abrams. Jan. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419725463.

Gr 7 Up –Bolden successfully demonstrates in this biography how monumental a figure Frederick Douglass is in U.S. history. Rather than provide readers with a straightforward chronological account, Bolden begins Douglass’s story with his first speaking engagement and the publishing of his autobiography. She tells of Douglass’s work as a publisher, a diplomat to Haiti, a bank president, and a prolific writer. The chapter titles are quotes from Douglass; each section features excerpts from his publications, quotes from Douglass or his contemporaries, and images, making the read even more engaging. Bolden immerses students in Douglass’s world, effectively capturing the atmosphere of the times: “As bombs, bullets, and bayonets bloodied and blew away lives, Frederick ratcheted up his rhetoric on slaveholders.” Bolden supplements her text with photographs, drawings, and images of his publications. What elevates these visuals are Bolden’s meticulous descriptions of each one (albumen print, daguerreotype, watercolor, lithograph, etc.). VERDICT Bolden adroitly demonstrates the wealth of Douglass’s life and accomplishments with this stellar biography. A must for all nonfiction collections.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

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

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