Frederick Douglass was born a slave. He was taken from his mother as a baby, and separated from his grandparents when he was six. He suffered hunger and abuse, but miraculously, he learned how to read. Frederick read newspapers left in the street, and secretly collected spellings from neighborhood children. Words, he knew, would set him free.
When Frederick was twenty, he escaped to the North, where he spread his abolitionist beliefs through newspaper articles, autobiographies, and speeches. He believed that all people-regardless of color or gender-were entitled to equal rights. It is Douglass's words, as well as his life, that still provide hope and inspiration across generations.
In this installment of the critically acclaimed Big Words series, Doreen Rappaport captures Frederick's journey from boy to man, from slavery to freedom, by weaving Frederick's powerful words with her own. London Ladd's strong and evocative illustrations combine with the text to create a moving portrait of an extraordinary life.
Praise for the Big Words series:
Martin's Big Words
Abe's Honest Words
Eleanor, Quiet No More
Helen's Big World
To Dare Mighty Things
Gr 3-5--Frederick Douglass's journey from slavery to international renown as writer and lecturer is broadly sketched here. Readers meet Douglass eye to eye as he gazes, serious and frowning, from a commanding portrait filling the entire front cover of the large square picture book. An unusual design choice places the title and creator names in bold text on the back cover. The poignant childhood years, some enjoyed and others endured, make for a touching, memorable story. About a third of the work is devoted to Douglass's adulthood. Emphasizing his role as a man of words, Rappaport includes frequent quotations. She focuses on Douglass's oratory and writing accomplishments but tells almost nothing of the man's personal life. In a rare specific example when she does, readers learn that Douglass's friends bought his freedom for $710.96. He went on to lecture in Great Britain and Ireland, started a newspaper, became friendly with Abraham Lincoln, and was involved with the Underground Railroad. Although the book features a concluding list of "Important Dates," Rappaport often neglects to mention where and when key events occurred: overall, this is a quick introduction accompanied by some striking visuals. Ladd casts a sepia glow in handsome scenes of key figures, and his illustrator's note adds a fun light on his painting of them. The many existing children's books about Douglass include works by well-known writers, some of which are included in the "Selected Research Sources" section. VERDICT Eloquent in part--though a bit skimpy, too--this is an attractive and versatile package.--Margaret Bush, Simmons College, BostonCopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.