Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth

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by Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Christie, R. Gregory. Picture Book, Nonfiction. 36 pages. Grades 3-12.
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Review

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The text is dramatic and gives information about slavery in the northern United States in the early 1800's because, of course, that's where the slave Isabelle, later to rename herself as Sojourner Truth, lived her long and inspiring life.

The book covers her early years when she was beaten and sold repeatedly including at a slave auction in Kingston, New York. After being denied the freedom promised her she escapes and later has her permanent freedom bought. We follow her through her travels as an advocate for civil rights with an author's note telling us more about her life and work.

The illustrations are remarkable. They are bold and stylized figures with large heads and exaggerated features, there's a passion to them that makes them perfect companions to the dramatic text. R. Gregory Christie won the Coretta Scott King Honor for his illustrations in The Palm of My Heart. This is a picture book that you can use as low as third grade but don't let your high school students miss it either.

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Related Books

  • Bryan, Ashley. Let it Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals. (2007, Atheneum. ISBN 9780689847325. Order Info.) Picture Book. 38 pages. Gr PreK-5.
    Vibrant cut construction paper collages illustrate this inspirational picture book/ song book. The words of "This Little Light of Mine," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" accompany the full double spread illustrations. At the end of the book the author has included the music and an afterward about slavery and the origin of the spirituals. Read More . . .

  • Taylor, Mildred D. The Land. (2001, Penguin Putnam/ Phyllis Fogelman. ISBN 0803719507. Order Info.) Novel. 375 pages. Gr 4-8.
    Paul was born from the partnership of a slave and the white master of the plantation in Mississippi. Slavery ended when he was still very young but he, his sister, and his mother have stayed on the plantation. Paul's mother is the cook and housekeeper. Read More . . .

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    Grades 3 - 9
    It's Our World Too: Young People Who Are Making a Difference: How They Do It--How You Can, Too! by Phillip Hoose. Nonfiction. 176 pages.
    Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

    So much of the news of young people in our society is sad that it was fun to read It's Our World Too. I thought by the cover that these were all young adults but the chapter that moved me most was about a class of first and second graders in Sweden who bought a rain forest. The writing is personal, emotional and so skillful that the young people cited here seem real and not too good to be true. Their projects were/are worthwhile, possible to emulate, and inspiring. This is a book to hand to students and teachers who are reading about the environment, the homeless, the handicapped and the disenfranchised and are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about any and all of these problems. Read More.

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