Archive for March 23, 2012


words set me free

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome

This picture book tells the story of Frederick Bailey, who would grow up to become the great Frederick Douglass.  His biography is also the story of the power of the written word and the ability to read.  Born a slave, Frederick was separated from his mother early in life and sent to live with his Grandmamma.  His mother would walk 12 miles at night to see him while he slept.  At age 8, Frederick was sent to work for another master in Baltimore.  It was there that he first learned his letters, until his mistress was told to stop teaching him as it would make him unfit to be a slave.  Daring white children to write better than him, Frederick continued to learn to read.  Returned to his home, Frederick taught the other slaves to read too, eventually writing his own way free from slavery.

A glimpse at an amazing mind and leader, this book takes us back to his childhood.  It is a testament to the damage and horrors of slavery, as readers see Frederick taken away from one person after another in his life.  It is also a celebration of the human spirit and the power of writing to change a life.  Cline-Ransome’s writing is exemplary.  She tells the story with wonderful detail, rich with meaning, and plenty of depth.  The book has more words than most picture books, but the story being told needs those words to shine best.

The illustrations are also rich.  There is such an aching feel to the image of the slave mother visiting Frederick that it is a portrait in heartbreak.  Other illustrations capture emotions beautifully as well.  The soaring nature of Frederick hidden up high and reading a newspaper rises against a purple-blue sky. 

The author and illustrator have created a wonderfully cohesive work with soaring prose and powerful illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts that you might find interesting:

Amazon Seals First YA Deal with a ‘Kiss’ http://bit.ly/xGXSHr #yalit

Announcing the New Top 100 Polls! « A Fuse #8 Production http://bit.ly/y0Xz2T #kidlit

Ask Lorna: vampire-less books for teenagers – Telegraph http://tgr.ph/w3NIRK #yalit

Bologna children’s book fair digital award pits startups against Disney | http://bit.ly/ooI9mF http://bit.ly/AdxgrA #kidlit

‘Casa De Mi Padre’s Gary Sanchez And NALA Films Reteam With Helmer Matt Piedmont On ‘King Dork’ http://bit.ly/zCbnrs

Commentary: Teenage girls find meaning in dystopian fiction http://bit.ly/xTBPbM #yalit

Interview with Molly Leach about the design of the new edition of Wrinkle in Time — The Horn Book http://bit.ly/GAF4Vf #kidlit

Jeremy Irons joins Viola Davis in ‘Beautiful Creatures’ http://trib.in/FOduFU #yalit

Nathan Fillion To Play Greek God Hermes In ‘Percy Jackson’ http://on.mtv.com/FOdw0C

Nickelodeon Heads to Random House http://bit.ly/GAH1B9 #kidlit

Story time to go: Libraries try to reach kids who aren’t being read to at home – The Washington Post http://wapo.st/GAFon3 #libraries

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