Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; Carol Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This is an incredible story of a remarkable journey to freedom to escape slavery and includes many historically accurate facts. It should be noted that this is a fictionalised version of the life and events of Harriet Tubman and the true story can be found in the author's note at the end of the book - which is not all too dissimilar from the one that is told in the narrative.
Born into Slavery in Maryland, Harriet was hired as a slave at just the tender age of seven to care for a baby. If the child cried, Harriet was punished - that was life as a slave. Not willing to put up with such atrocities, Harriet rebelled and revolted against the system - refusing to follow orders and eventually fleeing on the Underground Railroad - a secret network of routes and buildings that escaped slaves used.
The story itself starts with Harriet who is facing the prospect of being sold to the South where the slavery conditions are much harsher and she will be separated from her family. A vision and conversation with God sets a plan in motion that Harriet will attempt to execute, she will flee North to safety and to the sweetest of places…freedom. With her visions and the voice of God to guide her, Harriet travels though swampland and bushland in her bid for freedom but she can only make it so far alone. Eventually she will need the help of other people but it is hard to trust strangers who could turn you in exchange to make a quick dime. Harriet though finds kindness in strangers and after successfully hiding out to avoid being nabbed by the patrollers she makes it to Philadelphia.
Harriet’s incredible journey is far from over though. She has not forgotten the loved ones that she has left behind and is determined to help them. In a church, one of the stations on the Underground Railroad, she finds others who have fled and learns the secrets of the best routes to travel in the bid for freedom. With her new knowledge this extraordinary woman returned to rescue her family and continued to return to rescue many others earning herself the name , “the Moses of her people.”
Sometimes you find a book that leaves you speechless, this is one of the those times. Full of raw emotion, this is a powerful, moving and emotional read that will live long in the memory. I knew nothing of Harriet Tubman before reading this book, I’m so glad I took the time to get to know her. Harriet Tubmans’s story is testament to the strength of the human spirit and shows how courage and resilience can be found in even the darkest and hardest of times.
The story is told through a mix of narrative and Harriet’s conversations with God. Three different fonts are used so the reader can be clear on when the story is being told, when Harriet is speaking and when God is speaking. The illustrations are striking, stunning and are simply beautiful and are presented over double page spreads. The foreword at the start is super as is the authors note at the end which is a work in itself. Both of these provide important historical information to this period of time.
I implore you not to be put off by the visions and conversations Harriet has with God, whilst they will not appeal to everyone they provide a deeper understanding of Harriet as a person. This was a woman who was in need of faith and hope when all seemed lost.
Inspiring and informative.
Recommended for 10+.