Grades 2-5 (and beyond) Weatherford's handsome picture book about Harriet Tubman focuses mostly on Tubman's religious inspiration, with echoes of spirituals ringing throughout the spare poetry about her struggle ("Lord, don't let nobody turn me 'round"). God cradles Tubman and talks with her; his words (printed in block capitals) both inspire her and tell her what to do ("SHED YOUR SHOES; WADE IN THE WATER TO TRICK THE DOGS"). Nelson's stirring, beautiful artwork makes clear the terror and exhaustion Tubman felt during her own escape and also during her brave rescue of others. There's no romanticism: the pictures are dark, dramatic, and deeply colored--whether showing the desperate young fugitive "crouched for days in a potato hole" or the tough middle-aged leader frowning at the band of runaways she's trying to help. The full-page portrait of a contemplative Tubman turning to God to help her guide her people is especially striking. Hazel Rochman
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Classroom Implications: A critical addition to any library, this book uses poetry and call and response format to paint an accurate portrayal of Tubman's journey. The illustrations and language team together to create a teaching tool that spans audiences.
Skills and Strategies
- Nonfiction reading--historical and social action
- Call and Response
- Descriptive language
- Character study