Do any of you remember The Story of Walt Disney? Well, this book is in the same biography series.
Having recently reviewed another more in-depth biography of Harriet Tubman, I shall not retell the story of her life. But I will say that this biography was much simpler than the other and devoted more time to Harriet’s own escape from slavery than the other did. It also focused more on her exploits than on her social legacy.
There are several scenes in which Harriet is whipped. She screams and is hurt, but there is no blood.
This scene occurred when Harriet came to the rescue of Charles Nalle.
As the boat carrying Harriet and Nalle landed on the opposite shore, many policeman were there to meet them. They recaptured Nalle and put him in jail.
But many angry abolitionists had crossed the river, too. They marched to the jail and threw rocks at the door. The policemen fired their guns into the crowd.
“They can only kill a dozen of us!” someone shouted. “Come on!”
More shots rang out. Many people were killed. At last a very large black man pushed open the prison door. But the sheriff was waiting inside with a hatchet. He swung the hatchet, splitting open the big man’s head. The man slumped to the ground, dead. His big body blocked the door. The sheriff couldn’t close it. A wave of people rushed in. Harriet was among them. They grabbed Nalle a second time and carried him out of the jail. [pg. 81-82]
What a price to pay in order to free one man!
The narrative said that Harriet “crossed the magical Mason-Dixie Line!” What they mean by this is that so much changed from one side to the other, but still, magical?
As I mentioned in my review of the other Harriet Tubman biography, Harriet decided to try wearing trousers designed by Mrs. Bloomer who “was a pioneer for women’s rights” while she is on the battlefield. As I said before, a much more practical outfit to wear when fighting a war, but definitely linked to ‘women’s liberation’.
When Harriet returns home to ask her husband, John to come North with her, she discovers that he is now married to another woman.
It is mentioned briefly at the end that Harriet lectured for women because, as the book says, “How many men had done the things she’d done?” [pg. 99]
This is the paragraph about Nat Turner.
The Underground Railroad was a slow way of freeing slaves. It was too slow for some people. They wanted slavery to be abolished immediately. Nat Turner, a slave in Virginia, was one of these people. He was a quiet, thoughtful man. He preached words from the Bible. One night he told six other slaves that he had had a vision from God. He believed that he was the man who would end slavery. To do this he said that God had told him to kill all of the white people he could. [pg. 19]
This is a blatant misuse of the name of God and may prompt children to wonder if God really told him these things.
Conclusion. Still, despite all of these cautions, a good introduction for children.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret