NONFICTION

Biddy Mason Speaks Up

illus. by Laura Freeman. 112p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. Heyday. Feb. 2019. Tr $18. ISBN 9781597144032.
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Gr 8 Up—White and Atkins detail the life of Bridget "Biddy" Mason, a successful nurse and businesswoman who secured freedom for her and her children through legal action, and use her story as a lens through which to examine the experiences of enslaved people in the United States and the history of slavery as an institution. Each chapter begins in verse accompanied by bright illustrations, describing imagined scenes from Mason's life. (The introduction states that the authors "imagin[ed] Biddy Mason's life based on all the information and stories we could gather." The detailed source notes, located in the back matter, indicate where the information was drawn from.) This is followed by factual investigations into key historical moments and daily life throughout the time period. These thoughtfully written sections are well arranged with clear headings, definitions for important terms in the text and in sidebars, captioned historical images, questions for discussion, and time lines. An extensive amount of back matter makes this an enormously useful resource for students. A section at the end titled "Healing Your Community: From Biddy's Day to Ours" encourages readers to think about injustice in their own communities, and how they might speak up themselves. Readers and those recommending this book should note that the book includes a description of rape and discussion of sexual abuses suffered by enslaved people.
VERDICT A first purchase for biography, history, and general nonfiction collections alike.

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