Saturday, March 31, 2012

Freedom Train : The Story of Harriet Tubman - Dorothy Sterling

Summary:  Let my people go!  Born into slavery, young Harriet Tubman knew only hard work and hunger.  Escape seemed impossible -- certainly dangerous.  Yet Harriet was strong-willed and couragous.  "Some day," she said, "I'm going to be free."

When finally she did escape North, by the secret route called the "Underground Railroad," Harriet didn't forget her people.  Again and again she risked her life to lead them on the same secret, dangerous journey.

Freedom Train  is the exciting, true story of Harriet Tubman's bold and daring life.  (Summary from book - Image from

My Review:  I was really excited to read this book to my older girls.  We’ve been reading a great deal about boggarts, mermaids, and enchantments lately and I decided it was high time I read them something real.  Something with meaning.

Freedom Train tells the true story of Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who made her way to freedom on the famed Underground Railroad, only to return repeatedly and, like a female Moses, lead many more of her people out of bondage.  Her life was truly remarkable.  My children listened to her story quietly with wide, disbelieving eyes and clamored for more whenever I finished a chapter. 
Harriet’s thirst for freedom, rebellious spirit, and unfailing determination were inspiring, but her life as a slave was unfair and often brutal.  This worried my girls.  Occasionally, I had to stop and explain the more unpleasant aspects of U.S. history and why people were treating Harriet and other slaves so badly.  I didn’t mind these moments, and enjoyed the opportunity to teach lessons to my kids on the importance of equality, sacrifice, and courage.

I found the story of Harriet’s escape and many of her return trips to be quite fascinating, but partway through when Harriet began to contribute in other ways, as a spokesperson and Union soldier, the book took on a slightly drier tone and my daughters lost some of that light in their eyes.  They still tuned in occasionally when Harriet did something particularly interesting, but I could tell they weren’t as interested.  I think that an older reader would probably be fine. 
Freedom Train is one of those books that I believe everyone should read.  It’s not an amazing book, in and of itself, but it is a wonderful tribute to the life of a true American heroine.

Kaisa (age eight) says:  I thought that it was a good book because it teaches you history.  I thought that Harriet Tubman was a great person and she acted like a hero.
Sophie (age six) says:  It was a really good story and I liked it when she tried to join the army and also I liked when she was good girl.  I liked the things that she did.  And that’s all I have to say.
My Rating:  4 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  This book discusses the difficult issue of slavery, racism, and basic human cruelty.  I felt these issues were handled with care and presented in a way that might make children rightfully concerned, but not traumatized.  There were also two instances of profanity in this book – biblical, of course, but used in an exclamatory fashion.
Sum it up:  An inspiring story of one woman’s courage, sacrifice, and irrepressible spirit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this was a real big help to me!!!


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