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The Story of Sojourner Truth

by Anne Rockwell & illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-679-89186-2
Publisher: Knopf

A lot of information is packed into this picture-book biography. Sojourner, originally named Isabella, was a Dutch-speaking child born into slavery. Details about her life in slavery, when she was purchased by an English-speaking master, her marriage to a man selected by her master, the birth and loss of her children, and the events leading up to her transformation to an advocate for freedom, are recounted with passion. Rockwell (Career Day, p. 720, etc.) adds an author’s note explaining her motivation for writing this biography and cites Sojourner’s autobiography as her most helpful source. Additional information includes data about the subject’s life beyond the events chronicled and a timeline. The book is written in serial style, with a cliffhanger phrase at the end of each page. Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Christie’s (The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children, 1996) primitive-style illustrations are striking. Oversized, mask-like heads, often fierce and foreboding, dominate many of the drawings. Earth-toned colors predominate in the stark depiction of Sojourner’s early life and the slave owners who mistreated her, but her strength shines through in all the illustrations. An excellent addition to the biography shelf as a compelling story of an extraordinary woman, as well as for its pertinence to school assignments. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)