Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman


Most people know her as Harriet Tubman, but her childhood name was Minty. As a child she kept a dream of freedom tucked inside her heart, and became known a Moses to her people.

Young Harriet Tubman, whose childhood name was Minty, dreams of escaping slavery on the Brodas plantation in the late 1820s.

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Most people know her as Harriet Tubman, but her childhood name was Minty. As a child she kept a dream of freedom tucked inside her heart, and became known a Moses to her people.

Young Harriet Tubman, whose childhood name was Minty, dreams of escaping slavery on the Brodas plantation in the late 1820s.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This fictionalized account of Tubman's childhood on a Maryland plantation provides a cruel snapshot of life as a slave and the horrid circumstances that fueled the future Underground Railroad leader's passion and determination. At eight years old, Minty (so-called as a nickname for Araminta) boils with rebellion against her brutal owners and bucks their authority whenever possible. Deeming her too clumsy for housework, Mrs. Brodas banishes Minty to harder work in the fields. Toiling in the hot sun only intensifies Minty's desire to run away to freedom, and soon her father teaches her how to survive in the wild, so that she'll be prepared to make her break one day. Schroeder's (Ragtime Tumpie; Carolina Shout!) choice of lively vignettes rather than a more traditional biography is a wise one. With color and feeling he humanizes a historic figure, coaxing readers to imagine or research the rest of the story. Pinkney's (John Henry) full-bodied watercolors evoke a strong sense of time and place. Laudably, Pinkney's scenes consistently depict young Minty's point of view, giving the harshness of her reality more resonance for readers. A formal author's note follows the text and both Schroeder and Pinkney have included personal messages about the history of the book project. A firm stepping stone toward discussions of slavery and U.S. history. Ages 5-9. (May)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The Coretta Scot King picture book award was given to Minty. Schroeder gives a slice of Tubman's early life that reflects her spirited desire for freedom and the obstacles she faced in its attainment. The illustrations by Pinkney bring us the surface prettiness of the Brodas Plantation in Maryland, the hate-filled rage of the white mistress, and the warmth of loving adults who comfort young Minty and affirm her self-belief while urging self-protection.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
In this stirring account of the 1820's plantation life of the young slave Minty (as Harriet Tubman was known as a child), the bold, brave 8-year-old is counseled by her mother to be more docile and to try not to anger her owners any more than she had already done. Her father, however, recognizing her strong hunger for freedom, points out the Drinking Gourd in the sky and teaches her survival skills that will be useful when she grows up to become the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad. Beautiful, realistic watercolors depict the time, the place and the way of life very well. A foreword explains what parts of the story is fiction, while an author's note provides some information on Minty's adult life.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Alan Schroeder tells a gripping tale. Minty is independent, feisty and incapable of being a docile slave. Her dream of freedom burns brightly even when she is whipped for freeing muskrats from her master's traps. Little is known about Tubman's childhood, but from his research, Schroeder believes that this story might have happened. Pinkney's paintings are powerful and add to the drama of the story. A fictional telling often more successful than pure facts for it puts the sufferings of slaves in human terms that touch the heart.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3This beautifully illustrated and moving fictional story can be used to introduce Harriet Tubman and the injustice of slavery to young audiences. Minty (Harriet's "cradle" name was Araminta) is a spirited child who hides in order to shirk the commands of the temperamental Mrs. Brodas. When she spills a pitcher of cider, the mistress of the plantation throws the girl's beloved rag doll into the fire and sends her to work in the fields. There, she disobeys the overseer by freeing some muskrats from their traps and is whipped for her willfulness. After this incident, Minty's father takes her dreams of escape seriously and teaches her to survive in the wild. She is tempted to take a horse from in front of the Brodas house and to flee, but hesitates and loses the opportunity. Nevertheless, she vows that someday she will run away. An author's note tells of the realization of her dream and her work with the Underground Railroad. Pinkney's illustrations are outstanding, even when compared to his other fine work. His paintings, done in pencil, colored-pencils, and watercolor, use light and shadow to great effect, and his depictions of Minty are particularly powerful and expressive. This is a dramatic story that will hold listeners' interest and may lead them to biographical material such as David A. Adler's A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Holiday, 1992) and Ann McGovern's Wanted Dead or Alive (Scholastic, 1991). However, with so many real-life incidents from Tubman's childhood to choose from, one has to wonder why Schroeder decided to create fictional ones.Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Hazel Rochman
Set on the Maryland plantation where Harriet Tubman ("Minty" ) was raised a slave, this fictionalized story dramatizes what daily life was like for her as a child. Schroeder's words are clear and strong. There's no gracious big house here, no happy slave. The angry Missus sends the "difficult" slave child Minty to work in the fields. When the overseer orders her to check the muskrat traps, she sets the animals free and is whipped for it. Pinkney's realistic portraits are powerful, and, as in "John Henry" (1994), the dappled double-page landscapes connect the strong child hero with the might of the natural world. Her mother tells her to "pat the lion," but her father knows she means to run away, and several idyllic paintings show him teaching her to read the night sky and swim in the river and survive in the woods. The blend of fact and fiction is occasionally problematic (was she really planning escape at eight years old, or was that age chosen to suit the picture-book audience?), but kids will be moved by the picture of secret childhood rebellion in someone who grew up to lead hundreds to freedom.
Kirkus Reviews
A fictional extrapolation of a few facts about Harriet Tubman's childhood—her unruliness, her punishments, and her plans for escape from slavery.

"Minty" is a small, high-spirited child, cherishing a few moments away from the mistress, Mrs. Brodas, who burns Minty's doll when the girl doesn't come when she's called. From that day, Minty becomes a field slave and begins to acquire the information she needs from others for her future journey. Schroeder (Carolina Shout!, 1995, etc.) is a miniaturist, creating a narrative of handpicked details (Minty's doll with cracked buttons for her eyes) and inspired episodes (Minty's father teaching her to follow the North Star). Told in rhythmic prose and colloquial dialogue, the plot has actual events that are small, but it is rich with melodrama, suspense, pathos, and, of course, a powerful vision of freedom. Pinkney's illustrations exhibit, characteristically, his refined draftsmanship; the complicated compositions convey psychological aspects of slavery and make the individual characters even more distinct. This exquisitely crafted book resonates well beyond its few pages.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756904302
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Sales rank: 789,849
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2005

    A beautiful book

    The illustrations are gorgeous. My 4-year-old son began appreciating what he has more after I read the part where Minty's mistress throws her only doll into the fire.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2002


    'Young Araminta, or 'Minty,' who will later in life be known as Harriet Tubman, proves too clumsy and defiant to be a house slave and is sent by Mistress Brodas to work in the fields. Despite the counsel of parents and fellowfield hands to avoid confrontation with owners and overseers, . . . the childpurposely frees the muskrats from the traps she had been ordered to empty andis cruelly whipped and threatened to be sold 'downriver.' Certain that his headstrong daughter will one day attempt to run away, Minty's father begins to instruct her in outdoor survival and navigation, skills . . . {that} will serve her later as conductor on the Underground Railroad.'

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