Illustrations by James Ransome
Release Date: January 20, 2015
This is the true story of Isabella Baumfree, a former slave who later became known as a preach and orator named Sojourner Truth. An iconic figure of the abolitionist and women's rights movements, this story tells her story through her own words from the beginning to end.
This subject matter is an important part of our American and particularly African-American history. It highlights are the important areas of Sojourner Truth's journey from being a young girl sold away from her parents to running away with her baby in her arms to preaching across the United States. However, I am going to have to agree with the Kirkus review here that states, "As a read-aloud, the text is strong and effective. As part of a curriculum, there are concerns. The first-person narrative can be mistakenly taken as an autobiography, which it is not, and quotations are not sources." Throughout the entire book I kept wondering how much was Sojourner Truth's actual voice and how much was the author taking creative license?
When writing a book about any true story one must take great care not to make up words or thoughts that no one (including the author) could possibly know. The difference being something like "Albert Einstein thought no one liked him..." as opposed to the more truthful "Perhaps Albert Einstein thought no one liked him..." It is such a subtle difference, but what the author would be doing with the second sentence is admitting that he or she does not actually know what Albert Einstein would be thinking. Unless they have a direct quote, it would be wrong to include such a thing in a biography. By suggesting that he could have thought something though, that is where the difference lies. Because there was no sourcing at the end of the book, I, the reader, have absolutely no idea how much of the book is Sojourner's actual words and what is made up. Since it is told in her voice and I am aware that she wrote an autobiography, I am going to assume that some of what is said is either exact quotes or paraphrasing. However, one should never assume. I made that mistake with Primates, which had a whole lot of made up things just so the author could create an interesting story. Whether that is the case with this book remains to be seen, but I definitely wouldn't recommend for schools and teaching until that issue is cleared up.