Sojourner Truth: From Slave to Activist for Freedom

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Editorial Reviews

Born around 1797, property of Dutch slave owners in New York, Isabella Baumfree was sold at age nine, along with several sheep to boost her price. After experiencing a vision in 1827, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and became an itinerant preacher. As abolitionism grew prior to the Civil War, Sojourner became a famous and powerful advocate for freedom and for women's rights. Despite her influential work, she died poor in Battle Creek, Michigan. Among the books in this series, "The Library of American Lives and Times", are discussions of Stephen F. Austin, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Fulton, Alexander Hamilton, Sam Houston, Robert E. Lee, Dolley Madison, and Phillis Wheatley. Each volume begins with a full-page, sometimes color, picture of the subject and ends with a time line and additional resources that include Web sites. The opening pages provide background information to explain the subject's importance, followed by a chronological treatment of the person's life, liberally augmented with photographs and maps. Attractively bound with glossy paper and large print, these books use simple vocabulary and straightforward prose suitable for upper elementary and middle school readers. Thorough and well researched, they make fine additions to early American history collections. Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Further Reading. Chronology. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Rosen, 112p. PLB
— Laura Woodruff
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Butler introduces her subject briefly in the first paragraph, building a sense of excitement as Truth rises to address an audience of Sunday school teachers in 1863. She then devotes the rest of the first chapter to a discussion of slavery as it developed in the U.S. Following this solid preparation, the author goes on to describe her subject's remarkable life. The text is well documented, and the numerous illustrations, photos, and reproductions, both in color and in black and white, are authoritative and informative. Page layout is visually appealing, and the text, although comprehensive, is never overwhelming. There are several other recent biographies about Truth, including, Catherine Bernard's Sojourner Truth (Enslow, 2001), but Butler's is one of the most absorbing and thorough. The second book is not as finely focused. McLendon introduces Wheatley and then explains what might have happened when she was captured in Africa. The rest of the chapter discusses the slave trade from capture to the Middle Passage, auction, and finally purchase. The second chapter begins with a distracting switch of focus to family life in Africa and a discussion of polygamy. In addition, several of the illustrations have no real relevance to Wheatley or the events taking place during her lifetime. Unlike several other biographers, McLendon does include a discussion of Wheatley's critics, and whether or not she was considered remarkable because of her poetry, or because she was a black female slave who demonstrated a high degree of intelligence and mastery of the English language. Despite the initial awkwardness of the organization, this is a solid account of the life of America's first African-American poet.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Sojourner Truth was born as a slave named Isabella in New York in the late 18th century. When she walked to freedom as a young woman, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and became a spokesperson for abolition. Mary Butler's well-researched biography (Rosen, 2003) relates the interesting and inspiring story of Truth's determination in clear and even prose. Butler refers to primary sources and uses a minimal amount of fictionalization. She gives alternate accounts of events disputed by historians, and does not shy away from controversy surrounding this fascinating historical figure. Have the print version available so students can peruse the historical photos and illustrations. The main narrative is read by Allyson Johnson in a clear, matter-of-fact tone, and she alters her accent slightly when quoting Truth. Information sidebars are announced by a chime and read by a male voice to distinguish them from the main text. Johnson reads through a short time line of Truth's life that appears in the end of the book, but the recording does not contain other reference material.This is a serviceable audio biography of an underrepresented and important historical figure and will be best experienced with the print version in hand.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823957361
  • Publisher: Rosen Publishing Group, Incorporated, The
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: The Library of American Lives and Times
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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