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Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts

By Nikki Grimes

Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-0439793384
MY HERO recommends this book to children readers.

"History is often taught in bits and pieces, and students rarely get the notion that these bits and pieces are connected," writes Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Grimes in her author's note. Here, she and fellow Coretta Scott King-winning illustrator Wood imagine an afternoon tea conversation between suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, where the women take turns relating interconnected stories from their lives. Each spread, including a page of text and a full-page illustration, tells a single anecdote, including personal turning points in each woman's life and major historical events, such as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. In keeping with both activists' strong religious convictions, God and biblical references are invoked often, and Wood's painterly illustrations feature patterns inspired by American patchwork quilts and traditional African motifs. Back matter includes short biographies, additional notes, a bibliography, and an author's note. Textual voice and bold pictorial color are strong, and Anthony's and Tubman's goals maintain relevance at a time when gender and race issues continue to be newsworthy. Skirting the edges of fictionalized biography can be tricky. Although Anthony and Tubman did meet repeatedly, Grimes states that this extended conversation comes purely from her imagination. Younger readers, who may not realize this immediately, may need guidance distinguishing the historical facts from the fictionalized musings. Audiences willing to embrace the unusual concept, though, may view this as a vanguard piece in an engaging newform that mixes nonfiction with historical fiction.—Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ

MY HERO Review:

“Audiences willing to embrace the unusual concept may view this as a vanguard piece in an engaging newform that mixes nonfiction with historical fiction.” -- School Library Journal, starred review

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