The life and work of Sojourner Truth are detailed in this lyrical picture book by Schmidt (Martín de Porres, illustrated by David Diaz, 2012).
The book begins “In Slavery Time, when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted.” Most of Isabella’s brothers and sisters were sold away before she could remember, but her mother told her that the same moon and stars looked down upon them all. Then Isabella was sold and separated from her mother. She was made to work hard, then made to marry, then promised freedom but not granted it, so finally she “seized Freedom with her own hands.” Her son was sold away from her, and she used the law to get him back. After reuniting with some of her own siblings, she decided to make “a journey—a sojourn—to tell the truth about Slavery.” Schmidt details the states she stopped in and quotes words she used to speak her truth. (The bibliography describes the manuscript from which her words are quoted.) The poetic text highlights her inner journey, giving readers not just a strong historical figure, but a human being in insufferable circumstances, a feat not often accomplished in books for young readers, particularly about enslaved people. Minter’s art is emotional and haunting, with colors of blue and auburn, near-transparent silhouettes, faces that have seen too much, and nature looking on. The art itself tells stories of stolen childhood, torn families, and finding purpose.
Powerful, moving, necessary. (biographical note, artist’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)