A Force of Nature (My Pick for the Book Parade)

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Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell

Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell

I guess, technically, all of the books in the book parade are my picks, but this one is very special.  In the abolitionist movement practically everyone has heard of Harriet Tubman who rescued and freed countless slaves through her work on the Underground Railroad.   However, not everyone has heard of Sojourner Truth, which is unfortunate because she was, quite simply, a force of nature.

Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell, is a biography of Isabella Baumfree (born in or about 1797) who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth.  It chronicles her life beginning when she was sold (at about age 9), after the death of her owner and sent away from her ailing and elderly parents.   A strong (and smart) woman, she is later sold from slave owner to slave owner until she ends up with a master who does not believe in slavery and grants her freedom.  Isabella/Sojourner sensing the need to share her wisdom and experiences, after years of being enslaved, became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement. She was a woman who believed that her purpose, in life was to make a difference.

At first glance this picture book looks like it is suitable for younger readers (Goodreads lists the age as 6 and up).  However, I disagree.  It is an honest and frank discussion about slavery and sometimes the illustrations are equally harsh.  While I’m all about honest open conversation about this topic, without appropriate context and the child’s ability to process the information, I think that both the historical lesson and message of the book are completely lost.  Possibly even disturbing.  I think the appropriate age is about 8 or 9 and up.

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