Before She Was Harriet

by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Author) James E Ransome (Illustrator)

Before She Was Harriet
Who was Harriet Tubman before she was Harriet?

We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.

An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her a larger than life hero.

A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by James Ransome, winner of the Coretta Scott King medal for The Creation.

A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
A Christopher Award winner
A Jane Addams Children's Honor Book
A Booklist "Top of the List" selection

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

This striking reverse chronology opens with a regal portrait of an elderly Harriet Tubman, after which the Ransomes chart her decades of work in pursuit of equality. "Before she was a suffragist/ she was General Tubman/ rising out of the fog/ armed with courage/ strong in the face of rebels," writes Lesa Cline-Ransome, her incisive free verse emphasizing Tubman's bravery in the face of a multitude of dangers. James Ransome's watercolor portraits imbue Tubman with a steely determination--at every age--in lush scenes often set against blazing summer skies and blue, moonlit nights. Beyond its recognition of all that Tubman accomplished, the book serves as a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness. Ages 4-7. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-6--Before and after Harriet Tubman became the stalwart conductor leading enslaved people to freedom on the Underground Railroad, she played many remarkable roles during her long life. Cline-Ransome honors Tubman in lyrical verse, beginning when the heroine is "tired and worn/her legs stiff/her back achy." In each stanza, Tubman looks back to the time "before she was an old woman." She recalls speaking out against injustice as a suffragist providing "a voice for women/who had none/in marriages/in courts/in voting booths." She recollects everything she accomplished during the Civil War, spying for the Union and nursing the wounded. Looking back even farther, she remembers leading her people out of bondage and then her own arduous years in the slave owners' fields. Before all of this, Tubman was a little girl named Araminta who dreamed of the time she would "leave behind slavery/along with her name/and pick a new one/Harriet." Each episode in her compelling life is illustrated by a luminous watercolor. The expertly done expressive paintings evoke Tubman's strength and integrity showing "the wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion." VERDICT This lovely tribute effectively communicates Tubman's everlasting bravery and resolve, and will inspire curious readers to learn more.--Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome have collaborated on many award-winning picture books for children. These include Before She was Harriet, a Coretta Scott King honor book; Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the first Black-and-White Jazz Band in History; Satchel Paige, which was an ALA Best Book for Children and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal. They live in the Hudson River Valley region of New York.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780823420476
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Holiday House
Publication date
November 20, 2017
Series
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books
BISAC categories
JNF018010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JNF007110 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Social Activists
JNF007020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical
JNF007120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Women
JNF025270 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States - Civil War Period
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
United States
Slaves
Underground Railroad
Tubman, Harriet
African American women
Coretta Scott King Award
Honor Book 2018 - 2018

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!