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In Their Own Words: Harriet Tubman by George…
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In Their Own Words: Harriet Tubman (edition 2002)

by George Sullivan

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247669,930 (4)None
Member:bdhackman
Title:In Their Own Words: Harriet Tubman
Authors:George Sullivan
Info:Scholastic Reference (2002), Hardcover, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:biography

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Harriet Tubman: In Their Own Words by George Sullivan

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I've entered a point in my life that I have been excited to enter: I have a child who I can read with. I should probably rephrase that: I child who I can read a non-picture book with. I love reading to my children and they love being read to and I thank my lucky stars that they do because they are the children of an English teacher after all. Even though my 9-year-old still loves listening to me read her and her little sister picture books every night, there is something different about reading a more advanced book with more advanced topics with her. She randomly selected George Sullivan's book about Harriet Tubman for a school project and, in true teacher fashion, I saw this as a teachable moment.
Over the course of a weekend and two sittings, I read this book aloud to my daughter and, completely unintentionally, fell into teacher mode. We read, we discussed, I asked questions, she asked questions, I deviated to further discussion topics briefly mentioned in the book that I felt I should develop further with this curious kid, and I can honestly say that she and I both learned a lot about the marvelous woman that was Harriet Tubman.
Had I asked my daughter to read the book silently on her own, she would have been able to do so. That says quite a bit about the reading and writing level that Sullivan uses to describe Tubman's story. It is accessible to a 3rd grader without being too daunting or challenging. I knew I would read the book on my own to become better equipped to assist her with her book report, so I thought that combining the read-aloud aspect of our nightly picture books with the engaging discussions of reading a school book would work well for this particular situation, which it did.
The chapters are not too lengthy and they are clearly divided by time and topic, which helps a young reader to not become overloaded with an plethora of too much information at one time. While I wouldn't classify this as a picture book, it does contain a few pictures, some photographs and some sketches, which were perfectly fitting for the reading level of this book. The book begins with the beginning of Tubman's life and ends with her current-day ancestors, bringing Tubman's legacy full circle and hitting on the major events of her life. The little bit of details and descriptions rolled into Sullivan's presentation of each pivotal event in Tubman's life provide just enough appropriate detail for a young reader, but still enough to enlighten an adult with some information they may not have previously known about this courageous woman.
The book is a biography geared towards young readers and in that sense, I would call it a success. I learned some things that I never knew before, but I think that the most note-worthy aspect of Sullivan's book was the thinking that it incited in my daughter as I watched her take in the words. ( )
  rbmckenna1121 | Apr 11, 2018 |
In this straightforward account of Tubman’s life and legacy, author George Sullivan gives us the broad facts and offers enough context to orient young readers who may be unfamiliar with pre-Civil War history. We learn about the economics of slavery, the abuse and hardships suffered by slaves, the networks that comprised the Underground Railroad, and the events leading up to the Civil War (such as Nat Turner’s rebellion) that made Tubman’s escape so urgent.

Sullivan uses short, simple sentences and basic vocabulary, but the prose is never colorless or dull. He also makes liberal use of Tubman’s own words (as the title indicates). The final chapter gives us an overview of the many organizations, charitable foundations, monuments, schools, and landmarks that bear Tubman’s name—giving the reader both destination ideas and a sense of Harriet Tubman’s immeasurable importance as a historical figure.

The book also has a wealth of visual content, with dozens of photos, engravings, portraits, handbills, newspaper mastheads, and maps. The overall layout is pleasing, and the captions offer the reader extra tidbits of information. The end matter includes some good suggestions for further reading, although two of the online sources are no longer available. ( )
  Rheindselman | Apr 9, 2018 |
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. She says "there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death. If i could not have one, I would have the other, for no man should take me alive. I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me." She is saying that either she is going to find her liberty or if not she will not allow them to take her alive without a fight. She had planned to escape so she could be free to the North. She risked many things such as capture, brutal beating, and even death. After she became free, she came back to help other slaves to become free as well. This is where the Underground Railroad came into play. She guided many slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Harriet never had a day of school. When she was turning fifty years old, her life story was being published. She was born in 820 or 1821 in Bucktown, Maryland. She was the youngest of eleven children. Harriet and her family were property of Edward Brodess. Harriet was also called Harriet Ross. She liked being outdoors. Harriet was a baby nurse and housekeeper. ( )
  jjuneau | Oct 25, 2017 |
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  Bookman1954 | Oct 21, 2015 |
The nonfiction book entitled Harriet Tubman by George Sullivan which is part of the In their Own Words series published by Scholastic Books is a well-written story of this African-American woman’s life as a slave, abolitionist, and a free person of color whose life calling was to help her people who were in need. I never get tired of reading about this American heroine, especially if the information presented about her is done with quality and ease of reading, such as how the author of this book has written her story. Sullivan appears to have targeted young readers between the ages of 9 and 11, but as I’ve said in other reviews that critiqued books geared toward young readers, even as an adult, I learned a lot and gleaned a plethora of information about the subject matter or person of interest in which this 118 page story revolves.

In summary, Harriet Tubman was born around 1820 in Bucktown, Maryland on a farm owned by Edward Brodess. She was the youngest of 11 children and she, her mother, father, and siblings were always worried about being sold off and separated forever. Harriet was strong and worked primarily out in the fields. When her owner was in financial need, however, he often hired her out to others families who mistreated her. Luckily, Harriet was never detached from her family for too long because when she ever fell ill, the temporary owners would send her back to Brodess. Each time Harriet recovered.

Because of the mistreatment slaves were forced to endure, many attempted to escape the iron fist that their masters used to rule over them. Harriet became fascinated with fellow slaves who tried to run away. On one occasion when she witnessed a man struggling to flee from bondage with the owner in pursuit, she purposely stood in the white man’s way when the slave ran passed her and was dealt a blow to her head with an iron weight. She survived the incident, but suffered from headaches and blackouts or sleeping spells as they used to call them for the rest of her life.

Harriet began to imagine what it would be like to escape to freedom, but kept this dream safely tucked away within her heart. Several years passed before she developed the gumption to actually carry out the dangerous task of escaping to freedom. She often had a dream in which she heard the words, “Arise, flee for your life,” repeated to her. When Harriet heard about a slave named Tice Davids escape his master’s capture, the term “Underground Railroad” was used to describe how he disappeared. It wasn’t a railroad, nor was it underground, but was a term used to define the method by which Northerners and abolitionists assisted runaway slaves flee to freedom. From that day forward, Harriet toiled with idea of trusting whites to help her to the north, but did not act on it for several more years because she met and married a free back man named John Tubman who lived near the Brodess plantation. Because John was never a slave, his desire to venture north was not a priority and he told Harriet that if she tried to escape, he would tell her owner. If she was ever to taste freedom, she would have to keep it a secret and go alone.

Five years after Harriet married John, her new owner Doc Thompson who had inherited Brodess’ slaves after he died, was in financial need. It was rumored that he was about to sell some of his slaves. This was Harriet’s moment of truth. She convinced three of her brothers to escape with her to freedom. That night, while her husband slept, they made a run for it, but as they entered the woods, the brothers began to panic. Realizing that she was not as prepared as she should be for the trip north, Harriet reluctantly returned to John. After a few days when more rumors spread about slaves being sold off to the brutal south, Harriet knew that she had to somehow try again to make her way north. She traveled from one safe house to the other of the Underground Railroad and eventually made it to Pennsylvania. The joy that encompassed her was almost indescribable, but short-lived because she knew her family and friends were still slaves and deserved their freedom too. She was determined to make a home for herself in the north and bring her family there.

Harriet made friends with white and black abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, and William Still. When she attended a Vigilance Committee meeting that Still was holding, she learned that her sister and husband were trying to escape and she volunteered to go back into the south to help them. Harriet was successful in bringing them to Pennsylvania which marked her long career as a conductor for the Underground Railroad.

With congress changing laws pertaining to the capture and return of runaway slaves even in the north, Harriet moved to St. Catharines, Canada to be safe. She soon began to make friends with people in high places, such as U.S. Senator William Seward who was an admirer of Harriet’s, and was also the former governor of New York, and eventually the U.S. Secretary of State. He helped Harriet acquire another home in Auburn, NY because this area was an important station for the Underground Railroad. It wasn’t long before she helped her parents and many of her siblings escape to freedom and live with her there. Throughout the years, she helped over 300 slaves successfully make it through the Underground Railroad and experience freedom for the first time.

Harriet also befriended John Brown, a white abolitionist who she greatly admired because of his fight for the rights of people who were not his own. When his efforts were thwarted and he was executed, the Civil war soon broke out and Harriet worked as a spy and nurse for the Union Army. She was never paid for her services, but when she made money or was given donations or financial assistance from friends, Harriet always shared with her people in need. When the north won, Harriet was relieved that the slaves were finally free.

Harriet married for a second time only after she heard that her first husband John, who had remarried after she fled to the north, had died. Her new husband was named Nelson Davis and was 20 years her junior. They were married for 19 years when he died of tuberculosis in 1888. In her retirement, Harriet supported other causes, such as women’s rights. She added to her pool of friends Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought for women’s right to vote. Harriet was often asked by her influential friends to come and speak at their events. While Harriet was alive, and especially after her death in 1913, tributes, ceremonies, plaques of honor, and metal sculptures were either organized or designed as a way of recognizing her wonderful selfless acts of courage.

How marvelous it would be for me to invite Harriet to diner and listen to her miraculous stories of flight from bondage to liberty. She was truly a person who thought of the welfare of others and allowed her life to be used for service to those who suffered. Harriet Tubman Davis was truly a heroine who against all odds helped to change the United States of America for the better.

In terms of accuracy, George Sullivan is an author of numerous books for young readers, covering topics from witchcraft to photography. He has written several books for Scholastic which is a reputable publisher. He also has a degree from Fordham University and has an established career in writing. The information presented in his book In Their Own Words - Harriet Tubman, are also facts that are supported by a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

The content has a scope that is fairly sizable with the information covering Harriet’s birth, life, and death. The depth is also adequate, offering many details and events that occurred throughout Harriet’s life without overwhelming the targeted young audience. The focus of this book is on Harriet’s life as a slave, abolitionist, and free woman of color and, therefore, fulfills the author’s purpose for writing her story.

The style is one that is written in very clear language that the reader can easily understand. Events are discussed in a logical order with vivid language used to further express what the author is trying to say. The story is also told in a tone that appears to be conversation in nature as if Sullivan is chatting with his readers.

The organization has an overall structure of being chronological as the story is told from Harriet’s birth to death and also has a story narrative feel to it. Again, it’s as if the author is talking to the reader.

Several reference aids exist in the book, such as chapters that have captivating titles to pull the reader in, a thorough Table of Contents that lets the reader know what to expect in each chapter, and an Index to help the reader quickly find a topic of interest in the book.

The format includes a wonderful selection of photographs of Harriet, other slaves, Union soldiers, and Harriet’s family, illustrations, sketches, copies of reward notices for capturing runaway slaves, maps of the Underground Railroad route, and bronze plaques and sculptures of Harriet.

Other access features include the book’s cover which is a photograph of Harriet as a young woman, a thorough bibliography of primary and secondary sources, a chronology listing significant dates in Harriet’s life, a Further Reading section that gives the reader other sources of information on Harriet Tubman, A For More Information section that gives names and addresses of organizations that provides more information on the Underground Railroad, Acknowledgments section that credits all those who helped the author gather the accurate information to write this book, a Photo Credits section for the vast amount of visual information presented throughout the book, and an About the Author section that allows the reader to know more about George Sullivan’s background as a writer and biographer.

As a future middle school English teacher I would definitely use this book as part of a lesson plan on “people of courage”. Students could write a biographical sketch on Harriet Tubman, present more photographic information on her and the times in which she lived, show YouTube documentary videos on her life, and perhaps incorporate the stories of her family members or other former slaves and abolitionists who knew her. ( )
  cdaugher | Apr 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439165849, Paperback)

This unique biography of Harriet Tubman uses interviewswith Tubman, as well as writings from her contempories, to tell the story of her life.

"There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would have the other, for no man should take me alive."

Born into slavery on a southern plantation, Harriet Tubman dreamed of the Promised Land to the north. After escaping slavery herself, she repeatedly returned to the South to lead more than 300 other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, Tubman served as a Union spy. Later in life, she established a home for the sick and needy in Auburn, NY. Tubman's faith and determination guided her throughout her long and eventful life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Using a variety of primary sources, this biography of Harriet Tubman describes the life of a former slave who was responsible for helping many other slaves to freedom.

(summary from another edition)

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