Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass

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

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
The inspirational, true story of how Frederick Douglass found his way to freedom one word at a time.

This picture book biography chronicles the youth of Frederick Douglass, one of the most prominent African American figures in American history. Douglass spent his life advocating for the equality of all, and it was through reading that he was able to stand up for himself and others. Award-winning husband-wife team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome present a moving and captivating look at the young life of the inspirational man who said, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

More books in the series - See All

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
Drawing from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the Ransomes (Before There Was Mozart) create a powerful biographical account of the anti-slavery crusader, writer, and orators early life. Writing from Douglasss first-person perspective, Lesa Cline Ransome plainly relays the inhuman treatment of plantation slaves even the animals were rested in the heat of the afternoon sun, and they were never whipped bloody for being too tired or too sick or too slow and expresses how learning to read was a catalyst for Douglasss liberation. I bought my first newspaper and learned new words liberty, justice, and freedom.... These were the words my master would never want me to see. Ransomes acrylic and oil paintings combine striking naturalism with a palette of inky greens and blues; after Douglass uses his writing skills to forge a letter from his master releasing him, a final spread shows him looking boldly toward the North Star. Though an authors note explains that Douglass did not successfully escape that night (but did three years later), the story concludes with a sense of hope and determination. Ages 5 9. (Jan.) Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 2-5--This powerful, eloquent first-person narrative provides a moving account of Douglass's early life. Born and raised on plantations, he spent his formative years in Baltimore in the 1820s and '30s. His thirst to learn to read never waivered; he practiced writing with a brick and a lump of chalk, copying the letters of poor white children and stealing a copybook from his master's son. At 12-years-old, Douglass bought his first newspaper with tips he had earned. He copied words like "liberty," "justice," "freedom," and "abolition" and was inspired. Though this account ends with a hopeful plan to escape, an author's note reveals that he was unsuccessful but that he did escape in 1838 to New York, where he began his new life as an abolitionist leader. This talented team has created a concise, accessible, beautifully illustrated book based on Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Rich acrylic and oil paintings depict plantation life (poorly clothed slave children kneeling before troughs, devouring cornmeal mush like livestock) and the strong emotions of the people (a young Frederick being transported with hands tied behind his back, lest he escape). This handsome volume is recommended for slightly older audiences than William Miller and Cedric Lucas's Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery (Lee & Low, 1995).--Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY

Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This talented team has created a concise, accessible, beautifully illustrated book based on Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Rich acrylic and oil paintings depict plantation life (poorly clothed slave children kneeling before troughs, devouring cornmeal mush like livestock) and the strong emotions of the people (a young Frederick being transported with hands tied behind his back, lest he escape). This handsome volume is recommended for slightly older audiences than William Miller and Cedric Lucas's Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery (Lee & Low, 1995)."—School Library Journal, January 2012 *STARRED REVIEW
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Lesa Cline-Ransome is the author of many award-winning and critically acclaimed nonfiction books for young readers, including Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams; My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey; and Before She Was Harriet. She is also the author of the novel Finding Langston, which received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award and five starred reviews. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Learn more at LesaClineRansome.com.

Raúl Colón is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books, including Draw!, an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the International Latino Book Award; Imagine!, an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a BookPage Best Book; Susanna Reich's José! Born to Dance; Angela's Christmas by Frank McCourt; and Jill Biden's Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781416959038
Lexile Measure
790L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
January 20, 2012
Series
Paula Wiseman Collection
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!