Thursday, April 21, 2016
Hale (the author) lays out the history of slavery quickly, getting us up to the 1830s, when Harriet Tubman was a young girl. Back then she was "Araminta Ross," and she keeps that name for the half of the book before she escapes to freedom. Her story gives us a good look at what the institution of slavery was like in the south at the time...in a word, terrible. Hale is able to do this in a way that honors the pain and condemns the horrors of slavery, but is still appropriate for the target audience of 5th - 8th graders. I wouldn't say it's sanitized; he gets into the fugitive slave laws, and punishments including hobbling. He describes and shows the beating of Araminta and other slaves, and there are passages that are a hard read because of that. Throughout, Hale's cartoony style of illustration is able to convey the humanity of these people, but soften some of the harder edges of history.