The “Princess of the Press” gets carefully researched treatment in this narrative biography.
Born in 1862 to enslaved parents, Ida B. Wells became a teacher, a journalist, an activist, and a speaker, and her words carried far and influenced and educated many about the evils of racism. The book’s opening scene throws readers into Wells’ decision, at the age of 16, to brave travel from her grandmother’s home where she was staying back to her hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi, to take care of her younger siblings, newly orphaned by yellow fever. As her determination to fulfill her duty to her family is illustrated in this scene, so her other character traits are illustrated throughout the book in detailed, well-written scenes: her outrage at being treated unjustly when a train conductor and bystanders forcibly removed her from a railroad car; her determination to speak the truth in the face of injustice even though it might be dangerous or alienate others, as when she publicly criticized Booker T. Washington; her stage fright when speaking to a crowd about lynching. Extensive use of Wells' diaries allows an intimate look at her feelings and experiences, and other primary sources offer humanizing peeks at her faults and quirks. Despite some abrupt transitions throughout, the text moves forward quickly and sustains interest. Potentially new vocabulary words are set off in bold and defined in a glossary.
A fascinating subject and good storytelling combine for a winning text. (glossary, endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 9-12)