Monday, February 13, 2012

Words Set Me Free by Lesa Cline-Ransome illus. by James E. Ransome

Words Set Me Free by Lesa Cline-Ransome illus. by James E. Ransome
This is the story of a young Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Bailey, before he escaped to freedom. Cline- Ransome places Douglass in the roll of narrator, as opposed to simply stating the facts. I thought this was a very smart move, allowing readers to better connect with Douglass.

"Much of my time was my own as I was not yet old enough to work the fields. We ate our two meals a day out of a trough just like the animals in the barn. We were always hungry so we shoved down our meals of cornmeal mush with shells and dirty hands. But even the animals were rested in the heat of the afternoon sun, and they were never whipped bloody for being too tired or too sick or too slow."

The above is from the second page, adjacent to the text is a picture of young slaves eating out of a trough. For me those two pages were the most powerful. Ransome paints the ugliness with such beauty. As the biography progresses Douglass comes more into himself, allowing people to get a glimpse of the men he would become.

"For seven years I worked for my master and his missus down at the shipyard, lifting and laboring, and back at their house, toting and hauling- always pretending to be something I was not - content to be a slave."

This Word Set Me Free, is a very fitting title, when Douglass understands the power of words he's determined to learn how to read regardless of the consciousness.

This was a good biography on Frederick Douglass. The longer I look at it the more I appreciate how well the text and illustrations complement each other.

The author includes an epilogue. There is also an author's note and a small timeline. The author was able to incorporate many names and states throughout the biography but few dates. So I would've liked more back matter including a longer timeline.

An excerpt via publisher

I've linked this post to Non fiction Monday, this weeks round up is at Wrapped in Foil.


GatheringBooks said...

This does sound like a very powerful book and perfect as well for Black history month. I have pinned in my Pinterest this so that I can also remember to look this up in our library. Thanks for sharing.

Roberta said...

James Ransome is one of my favorite illustrators. Good find.

Tara said...

This is a new one for me..I shared another picture book about Douglass today, as well @