DVDS
Before She Was Harriet
7 min. Dreamscape. 2018. $38.99. ISBN 97815200990088.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3–5—Mia Ellis dramatically narrates Lesa Cline-Ransome's poetic text in this adaptation of the picture book that shifts backward in time, highlighting the many roles Harriet Tubman assumed during her life. Mellow guitar and piano music frame the presentation with the occasional help of a violin and banjo. James E. Ransome's luminous watercolor paintings are minimally animated—a train moves through a landscape of hills and towns as smoke drifts out of chimneys. The animation is less effective when applied to the human subjects of the film, though. As Moses leads people across a river, their bodies sway forward, giving the impression that their feet are rooted in the water, like in quicksand. As a Union spy, Tubman hides behind a tree, opening and closing her eyes as an army floats, ghostlike, across the background. Teachers may find it beneficial to pause the film to discuss aspects of Tubman's life and to clarify some of the metaphorical language, like the passage that refers to the Combahee River turning into the River Jordan. Also, by filling in historical details and providing context, students can better appreciate the references on second viewing so eloquently expressed by Cline-Ransome.
VERDICT This is a solid purchase for elementary and public libraries and will likely be in demand as an example of a literary biography of high artistic quality about an important American woman.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.