Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Before She Was Harriet

A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist.We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poe...

Title:Before She Was Harriet
Author:
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Edition Language:English

Before She Was Harriet Reviews

  • Mary Librarian

    Both text and illustrations make this book a work of art. I learned new things about Harriet Tubman and was reminded of her bravery. I really hope the Coretta Scott King Committee takes a close look at this one, the Caldecott Committee too.

    From the advanced reader copy.

  • Brenda Kahn

    This is more of an impressionistic biography but a beautiful one. Sparely written - are they poems? Only a few words on each line and not many on each page and nary a comma or period in sight. But these few words are evocative. The illustrations are gorgeous and powerful double-page spreads that depict Harriet Tubman at various stages of her life. I found the second-to-last spread especially poignant as this one depicts a freed Harriet boarding a train in one car while white passengers board ano

    This is more of an impressionistic biography but a beautiful one. Sparely written - are they poems? Only a few words on each line and not many on each page and nary a comma or period in sight. But these few words are evocative. The illustrations are gorgeous and powerful double-page spreads that depict Harriet Tubman at various stages of her life. I found the second-to-last spread especially poignant as this one depicts a freed Harriet boarding a train in one car while white passengers board another car.

  • Edie

    As the author has stated, she presents Harriet as an old woman and then takes us back in time, "erasing the wrinkles" as we learn about her many roles, as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a family member, a conductor, a child slave. And always she was a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, taking care of others. The text is powerful and active with words like readying and always emphasizing the courage and desire for freedom. The illustrations are more than equal to t

    As the author has stated, she presents Harriet as an old woman and then takes us back in time, "erasing the wrinkles" as we learn about her many roles, as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a family member, a conductor, a child slave. And always she was a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, taking care of others. The text is powerful and active with words like readying and always emphasizing the courage and desire for freedom. The illustrations are more than equal to the task given by the text, portray a heroic woman true to her beliefs, always stronger than her slight body might suggest. The initial portrait, Harriet as an "Old" woman was a history of focus, command, determination. She looks straight out at us, challenging us to do more. There is no

    mistake about the moon that surrounds her head......a halo for many.

  • Suz

    There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and

    ."

    While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - horse-drawn buggies, ladies in long skirts and wide

    There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and

    ."

    While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - horse-drawn buggies, ladies in long skirts and wide hats at a suffragette meeting, boats slipping across a river to freedom - the text is just as lovely. Lines like, "before her voice became soft and raspy it was loud and angry rising above injustice," capture her spirit. The spirit that was in "a wisp of a woman with the courage of a lion."

    Some of my favorite scenes are those with Harriet in the night, clutching her walking stick, or looking up at the stars with her father. But I think the one I like best of all shows Harriet being helped onto a train by a Pullman Porter. It links all she did to free her people with the continued struggle and long road to the Civil Rights era.

    This is a

    for school libraries and public library children's collections.

    I received an advance copy from the publisher for review purposes.

  • Barbara

    Exquisite watercolor illustrations complement an engaging story that allows readers to look back in time on the life journey of Harriet Tubman. I appreciated how the author chose to begin the story near the end of Tubman's life now that she's "tired and worn / her legs stiff / her back achy" (unpaged) after all that she's been through rather than at the beginning. As she reflects on where she's been, readers learn about the many roles she's played throughout her life, and the various names she w

    Exquisite watercolor illustrations complement an engaging story that allows readers to look back in time on the life journey of Harriet Tubman. I appreciated how the author chose to begin the story near the end of Tubman's life now that she's "tired and worn / her legs stiff / her back achy" (unpaged) after all that she's been through rather than at the beginning. As she reflects on where she's been, readers learn about the many roles she's played throughout her life, and the various names she went by, reeling back those memories all the way to her childhood, and then returning to her life now. There is something to love about the text and illustrations on every page, including the gentle way she is assisted onto a train, and the way her story concludes. It's clear that the dream she once had of being free has come true, and now she can rest on her labors. Somehow, this book manages to capture the essence of Harriet Tubman throughout the decades in a way that others may not have been able to do. This book will fit perfectly in a collection of books devoted to civil rights or one focused on self-empowerment or strong women. As I closed the book after reading it several times, I wondered what Harriet would make of the world around her today.

  • Hope McCabe

    1. Awards: None

    2. 1st—2nd Grade

    3. Before She Was Harriet is a simple biography of Harriet Tubman for young readers and learners. It follows her life and all her struggles and achievements. Her spirit could not be broken even throughout the strife of slavery.

    4. This book is a magnificent story of an inspirational woman who helped changed the course of history. It gives her credit where credit is due. I find it very important for young learners to know who she is and what she did for people.

    5. I

    1. Awards: None

    2. 1st—2nd Grade

    3. Before She Was Harriet is a simple biography of Harriet Tubman for young readers and learners. It follows her life and all her struggles and achievements. Her spirit could not be broken even throughout the strife of slavery.

    4. This book is a magnificent story of an inspirational woman who helped changed the course of history. It gives her credit where credit is due. I find it very important for young learners to know who she is and what she did for people.

    5. In the classroom:

    The teacher can organize an Underground Railroad activity, where one student will lead as Harriet Tubman and will embark on a secret mission around the classroom.

    An activity where the students color or draw a picture of Harriet and retell important facts about her childhood, her life events, and her accomplishments.

  • Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)

    I loved the text and art in this one. Another good one for a mentor text.

  • mg

    Stunning illustrations paired with lyrical bio-in-verse. It's a lovely glimpse into the life of a social justice lioness. My only tiny complaint (and it's tiny) is that she starts the story waiting for a train and ends the story getting on it, but we don't know where she is headed or why. Clearly, the author/illustrator wanted to show there was still more work to be done for African Americans (Ms. Tubman gets on a different car from the white people), but it's oh-so-subtle that young readers cou

    Stunning illustrations paired with lyrical bio-in-verse. It's a lovely glimpse into the life of a social justice lioness. My only tiny complaint (and it's tiny) is that she starts the story waiting for a train and ends the story getting on it, but we don't know where she is headed or why. Clearly, the author/illustrator wanted to show there was still more work to be done for African Americans (Ms. Tubman gets on a different car from the white people), but it's oh-so-subtle that young readers could easily miss it. Was there something more they were driving at with the image? Clearly there is the parallel with her being an Underground Railroad conductor, but was there something more?

  • Donalyn

    Gorgeous book. I liked the circular nature of the story and the reminder that Harriet Tubman wore many names and roles during her life.

  • Carrie

    Darn right.

    This is a great piece of art and a great summary of her incredible acts. The last page has a "and this is why we do this" satisfaction to it.

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