Weatherford, Carole B. 2006. MOSES: WHEN HARRIET TUBMAN LED HER PEOPLE TO FREEDOM. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0786851759
2. Plot Summary:
This book describes Harriet Tubman’s courageous journey north to escape slavery and become a free person. Through her faith in God and conversations with Him in times of doubt, Harriet gains the strength she needs to survive the dangers of being a runaway slave. She would go on to return to the south many more times to guide and rescue others to freedom.
3. Critical Analysis:
Kadir Nelson’s use of the strong imagery of dark and light colors to convey fear, doubt, hope, and joy add a deeper dimension to these and many more emotions. The reader can share Harriet’s apprehension, depression and peace as she moves from slavery to freedom. Nelson’s use of size and proportion exaggerate the importance of Harriet’s thoughts and feelings. The pictures cover the entire page and Nelson uses this technique to emphasize details of the story. On one page, when Harriet has finally reached free soil and she thinks she is in heaven, she is in the foreground seemingly towering over the townspeople with a church steeple in the background, a symbol of her faith in God. Her hands and head are illuminated and she looks down as if in prayer, grateful and at peace. Harriet’s thoughts and words are in a different font and when God speaks, the print is large and flows with the commanding tone giving guidance and encouragement. His words wrap around and encircle Harriet giving comfort and protection, or are straightforward in a line, giving direction. The theme is one of personal strength and faith. Children can relate to this historical account of Harriet Tubman’s search for her life’s purpose. Character traits such as perseverance, dedication, and selflessness transcend age levels.
4. Review Excerpts:
Caldecott Medal/Honor 2007
Coretta Scott King Award 2007
Reviewed in BOOKLIST: “Nelson's stirring, beautiful artwork makes clear the terror and exhaustion Tubman felt during her own escape and also during her brave rescue of others.”
Starred review in HORNBOOK: “Moses offers a visual and literary experience of Tubman's life on a par with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney's Minty.”
*Related Books: Woodson, Jacqueline. SHOW WAY. ISBN 9780399237492
Connelly, Bernadine. FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD. ISBN 9781591977636
*Take one picture from the book and have students write about what Harriet might be thinking and feeling.
*Study a map of Maryland and Pennsylvania and follow the route that Harriet took on her journey north out of slavery.
*Read about the North Star and discover how it has helped sailors and travelers navigate their way.