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John Brown: One Man Against Slavery

John Brown: One Man Against Slavery

by Gwen Everett, Jacob Lawrence (Illustrator), Jacob Lawrence (Illustrator)
The views of the controversial abolitionist John Brown and the events leading up to his ill-fated attack on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry are described through the eyes of Brown's daughter, Annie.


The views of the controversial abolitionist John Brown and the events leading up to his ill-fated attack on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry are described through the eyes of Brown's daughter, Annie.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As she did in her accomplished first book, L'il Sis and Uncle Willie , Everett has taken existing artwork--in this case by African American artist Jacob Lawrence--and written a historical text around it. Here, John Brown's fight against slavery is chronicled by his daughter Annie, 16 when Brown raided Harpers Ferry, Va., in 1859. On the verge of adulthood, Annie combines her pride in her father with a growing understanding of his work. She questions the use of ``deadly force'' as a means to end slavery and wonders if freedom is worth dying for, thus drawing in the reader and keeping this chapter history alive and urgent. At times, however, the author's need to convey detailed information overburdens the story and the spontaneity of Annie's voice is lost. The gouache paintings, part of a series of 22 works undertaken by Lawrence in 1941 to commemorate John Brown, are strikingly eloquent, their dark hues emboldened by bars of bright color. But in this context they can be static, somber and even menacing; they seem diminished rather than enhanced by their service as picture-book illustrations. Ages 8-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
The effect of this book is mesmerizing. Jacob Lawrence's 1941 striking paintings that dramatically depict the ordeals of John Brown are juxtaposed with author Gwen Everett's narration of the details behind the raid at Harper's Ferry, as told through the voice of the abolitionist's young daughter. Like a windchime next to a lightning storm, Annie Brown's soft, tentative rendering is matched page for page by the stark slashes of reality that emanate from Lawrence's works. This illumination of turning point in the history of slavery will make a lasting impression on young readers.
Ilene Cooper
Told from the viewpoint of abolitionist John Brown's 16-year-old daughter, Annie, this stirring picture book personalizes an event that helped begin the Civil War: the raid on Harper's Ferry. Annie relates how her father decided to lead a small group of fighters into a slave state, where they would sneak onto plantations and help slaves escape. In Brown's ambitious plan, the freed slaves would join his "liberation army" and continue their march for freedom throughout the South. As Annie gives some background on the abolition movement, she also tries to sort out her own feelings. Is the way to end slavery through murder and bloodshed? Can one person make a difference in correcting an injustice? Is any cause worth dying for? Though the historical aspect of the narrative is dramatic, it is Annie's grappling with these questions that gives the book its depth, and it is the paintings by Jacob Lawrence that give the book its magnificence. In 1941, Lawrence, one of America's foremost African American artists, created a series of 22 gouache paintings depicting the events surrounding Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Sixteen of them are reproduced here--bold, dramatic artwork that will stay with readers like dreams at night. This is a terrific adjunct to the Civil War curriculum, and one that can be used with a wide variety of age groups.

Product Details

Publication date:
Children's Library, Fine Arts for Young People
Product dimensions:
8.82(w) x 10.81(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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