Harriet Tubman: Toward ­Freedom

Little, Brown. Jun. 2021. 112p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780759555501.
Gr 6 Up–Taylor and Lee tell the story of Harriet Tubman, a girl who was once afraid of everything but who eventually led a multitude of people to freedom through the most harrowing of circumstances. In the introduction, Carole Boston Weatherford (Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom) discusses this remarkable woman whose faith shaped her into the dynamic historical figure we know today. Taylor and Lee cover William Still, the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, and the city of St. Catherine’s in Canada, the last stop on the Underground Railroad—in the “Panel Discussions” section at the end of the book, they expand on these and other topics. They also include story notes about the artistic liberties they took. Highlighting locations such as the suspension bridge over the Niagara River grounds Tubman, a figure often shrouded in legend, in reality. The pink and blue hues of the artwork have a vintagelike quality, like aged photographs. The text could have benefited from a glossary of Underground Railroad terms and signs. However, what sets the work apart is the inclusion of the role the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee played in recording fugitive oral history, which the Works Progress Administration would later use to explain how formerly enslaved people would take the names of the planters who stole everything from them, and how vigilant Tubman was about adhering to the rules of the Underground Railroad, keeping her entire group safe.
VERDICT This moving graphic novel brings Tubman to vivid life. A strong addition to graphic biography sections.

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