HOMESPUN SARAH

A young girl’s daily life in colonial times is filled with chores in the house and on the farm. For Sarah, it’s often with her little sister tied to her apron strings. In Pennsylvania in the early 1770s, when Sarah grows out of her one and only dress, getting a new one involves a lot of work; the sequence of tasks is arduous: washing flax, carding, combing, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and sewing. Written in staccato rhyme, the period-specific words send the reader’s eyes to the beautiful watercolor illustrations that expand the story. Rand’s (Anna the Bookbinder, p. 302, etc.) traditional style and skillful renderings of faces and fabrics embellish the text, conveying a realistic picture of the Golden Age of Homespun, but the terseness of the rhymes tends to impede the flow of the narrative. “Sarah dressing, / Bodice, snug. / Ankles showing, / Long skirt, tug. / Winding pathway, / Singing lark, / Outhouse, smelly, / Creaky, dark.” The breezy tone of the author’s note at the beginning could easily have served to tell the story in prose. It’s Rand’s research (mentioned in his acknowledgement) that really supports the historical details in his pictures. Teachers will love this attractive window on the period, which provides many threads to different aspects of the time. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23417-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE

An inspiring story of young boy's compelling desire to read. As a boy of nine, Booker works in a salt mine from the dark of early morning to the gloom of night, hungry for a meal, but even hungrier to learn to read. Readers follow him on his quest in Malden, Virginia, where he finds inspiration in a man ``brown as me'' reading a newspaper on a street corner. An alphabet book helps, but Booker can't make the connection to words. Seeking out ``that brown face of hope'' once again, Booker gains a sense of the sounds represented by letters, and these become his deliverance. Bradby's fine first book is tautly written, with a poetic, spiritual quality in every line. The beautifully executed, luminous illustrations capture the atmosphere of an African-American community post-slavery: the drudgery of days consumed by back- breaking labor, the texture of private lives conducted by lantern- light. There is no other context or historical note about Booker T. Washington's life, leaving readers to piece together his identity. Regardless, this is an immensely satisfying, accomplished work, resonating first with longing and then with joy. (Picture book. 5- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09464-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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