Michele Wood

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts, Book

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About This Book
Chasing Freedom: the Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony written by Nikki Grimes and Illustrated by Michele Wood


"What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create CHASING FREEDOM, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century's most powerful, and inspiring, American women.

With breathtaking illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award winner Michele Wood, CHASING FREEDOM richly imagines the experiences of Tubman and Anthony, set against the backdrop of the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women's Suffrage Movement.

Additional back matter invites curious young readers to further explore this period in history--and the larger-than-life figures who lived it."

From School Library Journal:

“History is often taught in bits and pieces, and students rarely get the notion that these bits and pieces are connected,” writes Coretta Scott King Award–winning author Grimes in her author’s note. Here, she and fellow Coretta Scott King–winning illustrator Wood imagine an afternoon tea conversation between suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, where the women take turns relating interconnected stories from their lives. Each spread, including a page of text and a full-page illustration, tells a single anecdote, including personal turning points in each woman’s life and major historical events, such as John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. In keeping with both activists’ strong religious convictions, God and biblical references are invoked often, and Wood’s painterly illustrations feature patterns inspired by American patchwork quilts and traditional African motifs. Back matter includes short biographies, additional notes, a bibliography, and an author’s note. Textual voice and bold pictorial color are strong, and Anthony’s and Tubman’s goals maintain relevance at a time when gender and race issues continue to be newsworthy. Skirting the edges of fictionalized biography can be tricky. Although Anthony and Tubman did meet repeatedly, Grimes states that this extended conversation comes purely from her imagination. Younger readers, who may not realize this immediately, may need guidance distinguishing the historical facts from the fictionalized musings. Audiences willing to embrace the unusual concept, though, may view this as a vanguard piece in an engaging new form that mixes nonfiction with historical fiction."

KIRKUS REVIEW



Two iconic women recount their stories.

In New York state in 1904, a suffragist convention is about to begin, and Susan B. Anthony is scheduled to introduce Harriet Tubman. But first the two women meet at Anthony’s home for tea and talk. Grimes artfully creates an afternoon of conversation and reminiscence in carefully constructed, fact-based vignettes that allow each to recount her life, accomplishments and continuing dreams. Each piece—there are 21—consists of both narration and dialogue that draw readers into the world of slavery, the Underground Railroad, the struggle for women’s rights, the fight for temperance and the dangers of public speaking on unpopular subjects. While not a dual biography, there is a plethora of information about both Tubman and Anthony as well as their times. Intended for reading aloud, the text can be an excellent supplement to 19th-century American studies. Wood’s full-page portraits are stunning. The folk-style acrylic-and-oil paintings are vibrant, detailed and emotionally charged. American quilt patterns and African motifs add to the depth of artistry.

A tremendous opportunity for children to understand what these women worked so hard to accomplish—one succeeding and one coming close. (capsule biographies, additional notes, bibliography, author’s note) (Picture book. 8-12)

Publishers Weekly

Grimes (Words with Wings) creates an absorbing fictional conversation, based on historical incidents and documented quotations, between two indefatigable 19th-century crusaders for equal rights. The author imagines Tubman paying a visit to Anthony’s home on the day of the 1904 convention of the New York State Suffrage Association in Rochester, N.Y., where Anthony introduced Tubman as guest speaker. As the two women trade stories about their callings, accomplishments, and aspirations, Grimes adeptly reveals their shared philosophies, faiths, passion, and courage. The women’s distinct personalities also surface, as do Tubman’s storytelling talents and Anthony’s oratory skills. Inspired by American patchwork quilts and African motifs, Wood’s (Going Back Home) primitive acrylic and oil paintings incorporate handsome geometric and floral patterns, but it’s her piercing portraits of these women that stand out most, accentuating their compassion and resolve. Back matter provides relevant historical notes and brief biographies of Tubman, Anthony, and other like-minded contemporaries mentioned in their conversation, including John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.)

Date: 09/28/2014