Friday, April 13, 2012
Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass
It's been a long time...this semester has been extremely hectic, but here is another review:
I have read several biographies on Frederick Douglass before. I have always been fascinated with his life story. This started in College in a speech class when we had to read and interpret a passage from a book. I don't remember why I choose Frederick Douglass biography or what passage I read. What I do remember is the teacher's response. He told me, " You made a great Young White female Frederick Douglass. I could imagine it being done better." However, I have never read a kid’s book on him or seen one about his childhood – before the Underground Railroad. So when I saw this book on the new kid’s biography shelf I knew I needed to read it J
It is strictly about his childhood and written with the intended age of 6-10 year olds. I absolutely loved the story. It starts with him being on a plantation with his mother. When she dies and he is sold, the new mistress starts working with Frederick to teach him to read. He loves it and is a great student, but when the mistress tells the Master (because she was proud of herself and Frederick) – He gets very angry and says “If you teach him to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” (pg. 14). She was no longer allowed to teach him, but that did not stop young Frederick to read. It ends with him attempting (and failing) his first escape, although it does include an author’s note, bibliography, and timeline that continues his story.
This book was very well written and included great pictures for the intended audience and even older – since I didn’t know this part of his life. The one thing that shocked me was the first two sentences. “My mama was named Harriet Bailey. They say my master, Captain Aaron Anthony, was my daddy.” (pg. 1) I feel that for such a young audience that 2nd sentence did not need to be included, however the story recovered itself and I would definitely still recommended it for all ages.
Kirkus Reviews also gave it glowing reviews and I feel they are tough critics. Their only negative was that they wished the book ended with a successful escape and not his first failed attempt. Although, that was the attempt where he wrote the letters that were supposedly written by his master stating that he was allowed to escape.
I give it 5 stars! (BTW, another Douglass book review is coming once I am finished reading it)
Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. 28 pages, ages 6-10 years.