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I WAS BORN A SLAVE by Jennifer Fleischner


The Story of Harriet Jacobs

by Jennifer Fleischner & illustrated by Melanie K. Reim

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7613-0111-9
Publisher: Millbrook

 Bold, black wood-block prints turn this memorable book about the life of a slave into a work of art. African-inspired, the detailed ebony designs printed on tan paper draw readers into Jacobs's life as a slave in North Carolina and her eventual escape (after hiding for seven years in her grandmother's tiny attic) to the North. Despite her suffering at the hands of her owners, Jacobs never became discouraged; she was taught to be independent by her ``gentle mother and proud father.'' Fleischner (The Inuit, 1995, etc.), basing her work on Jacobs's 1861 autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, writes with great empathy for her subject, and doesn't avoid difficult topics, e.g., the sexual abuse of slave women by their owners is sensitively portrayed. Readers will be introduced to one of the paradoxes in the life of a slave: the desire for freedom. ``In fleeing, [slaves] often left behind the only people they loved to go to a place where they knew no one and could trust no one.'' This is a well-written biography that also sheds light on one of America's darkest and most bitter eras. (bibliography) (Biography. 9-12)