Before She Was Harriet
A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist.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. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.A Junior Library Guild Selection

Before She Was Harriet Details

TitleBefore She Was Harriet
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 7th, 2017
PublisherHoliday House
ISBN-139780823420476
Rating
GenreBiography, Childrens, Picture Books, Nonfiction, History, Poetry, Cultural, African American

Before She Was Harriet Review

  • Donalyn
    January 1, 1970
    Gorgeous book. I liked the circular nature of the story and the reminder that Harriet Tubman wore many names and roles during her life.
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Exquisite watercolor illustrations complement an engaging story that allows readers to look back in time on the life journey of Harriet Tubman. I appreciated how the author chose to begin the story near the end of Tubman's life now that she's "tired and worn / her legs stiff / her back achy" (unpaged) after all that she's been through rather than at the beginning. As she reflects on where she's been, readers learn about the many roles she's played throughout her life, and the various names she w Exquisite watercolor illustrations complement an engaging story that allows readers to look back in time on the life journey of Harriet Tubman. I appreciated how the author chose to begin the story near the end of Tubman's life now that she's "tired and worn / her legs stiff / her back achy" (unpaged) after all that she's been through rather than at the beginning. As she reflects on where she's been, readers learn about the many roles she's played throughout her life, and the various names she went by, reeling back those memories all the way to her childhood, and then returning to her life now. There is something to love about the text and illustrations on every page, including the gentle way she is assisted onto a train, and the way her story concludes. It's clear that the dream she once had of being free has come true, and now she can rest on her labors. Somehow, this book manages to capture the essence of Harriet Tubman throughout the decades in a way that others may not have been able to do. This book will fit perfectly in a collection of books devoted to civil rights or one focused on self-empowerment or strong women. As I closed the book after reading it several times, I wondered what Harriet would make of the world around her today.
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  • Suz
    January 1, 1970
    There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and free." While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - horse-drawn buggies, ladies in long skirts and wide There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and free." While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - horse-drawn buggies, ladies in long skirts and wide hats at a suffragette meeting, boats slipping across a river to freedom - the text is just as lovely. Lines like, "before her voice became soft and raspy it was loud and angry rising above injustice," capture her spirit. The spirit that was in "a wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion." Some of my favorite scenes are those with Harriet in the night, clutching her walking stick, or looking up at the stars with her father. But I think the one I like best of all shows Harriet being helped onto a train by a Pullman Porter. It links all she did to free her people with the continued struggle and long road to the Civil Rights era.This is a must for school libraries and public library children's collections.I received an advance copy from the publisher for review purposes.
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  • Brenda Kahn
    January 1, 1970
    This is more of an impressionistic biography but a beautiful one. Sparely written - are they poems? Only a few words on each line and not many on each page and nary a comma or period in sight. But these few words are evocative. The illustrations are gorgeous and powerful double-page spreads that depict Harriet Tubman at various stages of her life. I found the second-to-last spread especially poignant as this one depicts a freed Harriet boarding a train in one car while white passengers board ano This is more of an impressionistic biography but a beautiful one. Sparely written - are they poems? Only a few words on each line and not many on each page and nary a comma or period in sight. But these few words are evocative. The illustrations are gorgeous and powerful double-page spreads that depict Harriet Tubman at various stages of her life. I found the second-to-last spread especially poignant as this one depicts a freed Harriet boarding a train in one car while white passengers board another car.
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  • Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the text and art in this one. Another good one for a mentor text.
  • Mary Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    Both text and illustrations make this book a work of art. I learned new things about Harriet Tubman and was reminded of her bravery. I really hope the Coretta Scott King Committee takes a close look at this one, the Caldecott Committee too.From the advanced reader copy.
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  • Edie
    January 1, 1970
    As the author has stated, she presents Harriet as an old woman and then takes us back in time, "erasing the wrinkles" as we learn about her many roles, as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a family member, a conductor, a child slave. And always she was a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, taking care of others. The text is powerful and active with words like readying and always emphasizing the courage and desire for freedom. The illustrations are more than equal to t As the author has stated, she presents Harriet as an old woman and then takes us back in time, "erasing the wrinkles" as we learn about her many roles, as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a family member, a conductor, a child slave. And always she was a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, taking care of others. The text is powerful and active with words like readying and always emphasizing the courage and desire for freedom. The illustrations are more than equal to the task given by the text, portray a heroic woman true to her beliefs, always stronger than her slight body might suggest. The initial portrait, Harriet as an "Old" woman was a history of focus, command, determination. She looks straight out at us, challenging us to do more. There is no mistake about the moon that surrounds her head......a halo for many.
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  • Margie
    January 1, 1970
    From the time they are a child their path is clear. Each choice they make regardless of their circumstances is intended to keep them heading in the same direction. For these people the journey is in service of others. For these people help is given, without question, for the betterment of others; especially those lacking the same rights as others.She lived for nearly a century. Before She Was Harriet (Holiday House, November 7, 2017) written by Lesa Cline-Ransome with illustrations by James E. R From the time they are a child their path is clear. Each choice they make regardless of their circumstances is intended to keep them heading in the same direction. For these people the journey is in service of others. For these people help is given, without question, for the betterment of others; especially those lacking the same rights as others.She lived for nearly a century. Before She Was Harriet (Holiday House, November 7, 2017) written by Lesa Cline-Ransome with illustrations by James E. Ransome is a brilliant collaboration. It is an eloquent portrait of a champion for American people. My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...
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  • mg
    January 1, 1970
    Stunning illustrations paired with lyrical bio-in-verse. It's a lovely glimpse into the life of a social justice lioness. My only tiny complaint (and it's tiny) is that she starts the story waiting for a train and ends the story getting on it, but we don't know where she is headed or why. Clearly, the author/illustrator wanted to show there was still more work to be done for African Americans (Ms. Tubman gets on a different car from the white people), but it's oh-so-subtle that young readers cou Stunning illustrations paired with lyrical bio-in-verse. It's a lovely glimpse into the life of a social justice lioness. My only tiny complaint (and it's tiny) is that she starts the story waiting for a train and ends the story getting on it, but we don't know where she is headed or why. Clearly, the author/illustrator wanted to show there was still more work to be done for African Americans (Ms. Tubman gets on a different car from the white people), but it's oh-so-subtle that young readers could easily miss it. Was there something more they were driving at with the image? Clearly there is the parallel with her being an Underground Railroad conductor, but was there something more?
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  • Madison Ramsey
    January 1, 1970
    This is the story of Harriet Tubman's life. However, it is not about the part of her life that we already know. It is about the different roles she played throughout her life. The story works backwards from her elderly self to her childhood self and back to her elderly self. This story is a great example of a nonfiction picture book. It is one that accurately tells the story of a prominent history character's life. I would use this book in my classroom, no doubt. I would love to use this book wh This is the story of Harriet Tubman's life. However, it is not about the part of her life that we already know. It is about the different roles she played throughout her life. The story works backwards from her elderly self to her childhood self and back to her elderly self. This story is a great example of a nonfiction picture book. It is one that accurately tells the story of a prominent history character's life. I would use this book in my classroom, no doubt. I would love to use this book when we are discussing the civil war in social studies.
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  • Stephanie Tournas
    January 1, 1970
    Free verse tells of the many careers of Harriet Tubman, moving backwards in time from her old age to her youth. I like this approach, as it allows us to see that each thing she accomplished was important to her becoming the inspiring person we know her to have been. Gorgeous, close up watercolor illustrations show her in youth and in old age, in hiding and in the public eye, always determined and strong. A lovely introduction to this important figure in American history.
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  • Teresa Bateman
    January 1, 1970
    We know her as Harriet Tubman, Moses, Minty. She was all of these and more. Start with an old woman with a history, and follow that history back to the various roles she played in her life. Each built the woman she became. The short, lyrical text pounds with the poetry of her experiences. Add to that James E Ransome's extraordinarily beautiful illustrations and you have a worthy homage to an exceptional woman.
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  • Tracie
    January 1, 1970
    A stirring verse biography of Harriet Tubman, suitable for readers in grades K-3.Spectacular, but I occasionally found myself wanting the text to have more punctuation (or more indented lines, to imply punctuation); this would improve the pacing, particularly when a stanza is broken by a page-turn (i.e. in the passage beginning "Before she was Aunt Harriet / she was Moses"). For me, the lack of punctuation interrupted the flow and kept this gem of a book from being a 5-star read.
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the concept of this book. I loved how the author went backwards in time starting with Harriet Tubman as an older woman and describing her life in each stage. I loved her use of suffragist, general, conductor, etc. and how those strong words created a rich picture of Harriet Tubman. This was a fabulous story of Harriet Tubman's life and written in a very powerful way. Wonderful!
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely lyrical and the simple language conveys the story of a very important woman in history. To touch on her childhood and provide a glimpse into the life of Harriet as she became older had a nice effect and illuminati things I hadn't known. A very inspiring book for young people and terrific picture book for young readers, the illustrations were excellent.
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  • Edward Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning picture book biography of Harriet Tubman with an elegant, lyrical text describing her roles as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a conductor, and a child slave. James Ransome's resplendent illustrations work perfectly with the text to portray Tubman as a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, and protecting and caring for others.
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  • Allie
    January 1, 1970
    I would definitely use this book integrated into a history lesson. There are terms in the book such as 'suffrage' that we would need to define for our students, but this provides context for them in learning a new word like that.
  • Jillian
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful book - the illustrations are stunning, and the text is powerful. I love the way that it starts near the end and goes back and back and back to the very beginning.I do wish there had been a further/suggested reading list, but that's what we librarians are for!
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  • Courtney Stevens
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful storytelling of one of my heroes from history. Opens with Harriet as a stiff, achey old woman, goes back through her youth and life, and comes back to who she is and all she has done. Absolutely fabulous book.
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    A great easy read Biography for your juvenile collection. The poem and the watercolors are beautiful and I'm so glad to add this to my library's collection! Can't wait to share this story about a strong and courageous woman with my patrons.
  • Hapzydeco
    January 1, 1970
    James. E. Ransome’s beautiful watercolors bring a fresh presentation to this magnificent biography of Harriet Tubman by Lesa Cline-Ransome. This picture book would make a great attention to any child’s bookshelf.
  • Laura G
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully illustrated, with text in verse that pays tribute to the woman we know as Harriet Tubman and the different roles she played in various stages of her life. Paints with a broader brush, as opposed to giving details, but readers will be prompted to investigate further.
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  • Debbie Tanner
    January 1, 1970
    This gorgeous picture book biography about Harriet Tubman is written in free verse. It tells the story of her life in reverse order using the different names people called her as reference points. I think this would make an awesome mentor text for kids writing biographies.
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  • Mary Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Poetic, beautiful, powerful.
  • Lisa Insalaco
    January 1, 1970
    The story is written like beautiful poetry and the illustrations are beautiful. What a great team!
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    WOW.
  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    Well written text about Harriet Tubman moving backward through her life.
  • Sherry
    January 1, 1970
    Read this with my 10 year old grand daughter. The illustrations were beautiful. She now understands how you can have an Underground Railroad with no train and no tracks!
  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Stunning.
  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    This entire story is told through a biographical poem complemented with beautiful watercolor illustrations.
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