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Before She Was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman
Contributor(s): Cline-Ransome, Lesa, Ransome, James E. (Illustrator)

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ISBN: 0823420477     ISBN-13: 9780823420476
Publisher: Holiday House
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Binding Type: School And Library
Published: November 2017

Annotation: Written in verse and complemented by watercolor illustrations from a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist, a lyrical portrait of the Union spy and Underground Railroad heroine illuminates her humble origins, intrepid spirit and compassionate heart. Jr Lib Guild. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Slaves; United States; Biography; Juvenile literature.
African Americans; Biography; Juvenile literature.
African American women; Biography; Juvenile literature.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Social Activists
- Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States
- Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States
Dewey: 973.7115092
LCCN: 2016051680
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7
Book type: Easy Non Fiction
Physical Information: 11.50" H x 9.50" W x 0.75" (0.96 lbs) 32 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 193579
Reading Level: 4.5   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome have collaborated on many award-winning picture books for children. These include Satchel Paige, which was an ALA Best Book for Children and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal. The Quilt Alphabet was praised as "A blue-ribbon ABC book that combines bright, folksy oil paintings and lilting riddle-poems," in a starred review in Publishers Weekly and called "a feast for the eyes" in School Library Journal. They live in the Hudson River Valley region of New York.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Spring)
The Ransomes have crafted an evocative life story of Harriet Tubman, framed by her travels. In free verse, the text tells of Tubman's roles (in reverse chronological order) as suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, nurse, conductor on the Underground Railroad, and slave. James Ransome's arresting watercolors highlight Tubman's face from different angles, always emphasizing her undaunted determination. Visual details will also enhance readers' knowledge of American history. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #1)
The Ransomes have crafted an evocative life story of Harriet Tubman, framed by her travels. On the first page, she gazes out at the reader as an elderly woman. In free verse, the text tells of Tubman's past roles (in reverse chronological order) as suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, nurse, conductor on the Underground Railroad ("Before she was Aunt Harriet / she was Moses"), and finally Araminta, the child whose father taught her to "read" the world around her so that she would one day be free and become, simply, Harriet. James Ransome's arresting watercolor illustrations highlight Tubman's face from different angles, always emphasizing her undaunted determination amidst obstacles, as she moves from place to place. The pictures offer visual details that will enhance readers' knowledge of American history. On the title page, Tubman waits at a train station among travelers of different races, but when she finally boards the train (shown in the concluding pages of the book), an African American Pullman Porter assists her into a segregated car. When the last page returns to Tubman's image as an old woman, preparing to undertake one more journey, the lines in her face reveal the toll fighting for justice has taken on her. michelle h. martin Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 October #2)

This striking reverse chronology opens with a regal portrait of an elderly Harriet Tubman, after which the Ransomes chart her decades of work in pursuit of equality. "Before she was a suffragist/ she was General Tubman/ rising out of the fog/ armed with courage/ strong in the face of rebels," writes Lesa Cline-Ransome, her incisive free verse emphasizing Tubman's bravery in the face of a multitude of dangers. James Ransome's watercolor portraits imbue Tubman with a steely determination—at every age—in lush scenes often set against blazing summer skies and blue, moonlit nights. Beyond its recognition of all that Tubman accomplished, the book serves as a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness. Ages 4–7. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 October)

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

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
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