Monday, February 18, 2013

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by David A. Adler

What better time to read this new biography of Harriet Tubman than during Black History Month.  I know there are lots of books about there about this courageous woman, but I found Adler's book so interesting that I read it in one sitting.

Tubman was born a slave in 19820, one of thirteen children who never even knew her date of birth.  Her own, Edward Brodsee wasn't a very successful man and often rented out or sold his slaves to raise needed money.  Harriet, or Minty as she was originally called, was herself rented out.  When Brodsee died, his slave should have been granted their freedom, but his wife, needing money, hired a lawyer to see if there was some way to get around this provision in her husband's will.

Hearing this, Minty and three of her brothers decided to run away with only the north star to guide them.  The night noises frightened her brothers, so they turned back.  Minty was the only one to make it to freedom that time.

And this was only the beginning of Harriet Tubman's life as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.  Altogether, Tubman made thirteen trips to guiding family and others to freedom under cover of darkness, in the face of danger and in bitter cold winter weather.  

Adler's book, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad,  gives a very nice, broad look at this woman's incredible life, providing information about her birth and childhood on the Brodsee farm, her flight north, and her work as a spy and nurse wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War, among other things.

But Tubman's life isn't presented in a vacuum.  Adler gives a nice picture of the political, social and cultural events that influenced Tubman's actions throughout her life.  His narrative is supplemented with plenty of drawings and photographs, excerpts from newspapers of the time, and timeline of Tubman's life and lots of useful resources at the back of the book.

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is an excellent text for introducing young readers to the accomplishments of this brave woman as well as a wonderful overview of American history in the 19th century and the institution of slavery.  It is written in clear, lively language, so that the reader really gets a feel for the kind of person Tubman was, including some faults, which are often overlooked when writing about a heroic figure.

All in all, this is an excellent addition to the body of literature for children regarding Black History Month.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by Roberta at Wrapped in Foil


  1. Thanks for the recommendation. It looks good.
    Apple with Many Seeds

  2. Not knowing your own birthday. Such a simple thing, but so heartbreaking. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Pinned and tweeted it! Looks great and glad to learn about more great books about Harriet Tubman!


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