Schmidt, Gary D. So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk toward Freedom. Illustrated by Daniel Minter. “Advance reader’s edition.” Roaring Brook Press, on sale 9/25/2018. Unpaged. Includes bibliography. $18.99. ISBN 9781250298355. Ages 6-9. P7Q9
“In Slavery Time, when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted”
Events in the life of Sojourner Truth—first called Isabella—are framed by full-page illustrations and a line of poetry. The frame pages feature brilliantly colored inserts framed by patterns in somber shades that remind me of quilt blocks. The pages of the biography are unbordered on white pages with a block of text.
Many children’s books state or imply that slavery in the United States occurred primarily in the Southern States. This gorgeously illustrated picture book biography of Sojourner Truth points out that she was born into slavery in the state of New York. The description of her life—having ten or twelve sisters and brothers, but not knowing them because they had been sold; being made to work both day and night; being made to marry and have children; being promised freedom and then denied it—make clear to young readers the importance of freedom, and, as the biography also makes clear, Isabella’s courage in claiming her own freedom and the freedom of her children.
Verdict: This beautiful picture book biography includes information I had not previously known about Sojourner Truth’s life. Both the biographical note and illustrator’s note add context to the work and the full page of bibliographic references, many for adult readers, points the way for further research. Highly recommended for elementary, middle school and public library collections.
September 2018 review by Jane Cothron.
Schmidt, Gary D. So Tall within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk toward Freedom. Illus. by Daniel Minter. Roaring Brook. 2018. $18.99. unp. Ages 6-9. P7Q9
“Hope was a seed” that Isabella, born into slavery in 1797 and sold to a number of owners, nurtured through her first 30 years until she escaped to New York, forced to leave behind her children and husband. Throughout her life she sought Respect, winning a court case to regain her five-year-old son, also in slavery, and taking on a new name because of her sojourns to oppose slavery and fight for civil rights and women’s suffrage. End notes enhance the story with information about Sojourner Truth’s family life, an essay of the veracity of sources, and a note by the artist on his work.
Verdict: The luminous two-page watercolor spreads, every other one highlighted with a strong vertical panel on the left, match the poetic text in the most outstanding youth book about this leader for women’s and blacks’ rights despite a life of danger. The moving narrative covers both the inner and physical journey of Truth through her 86 years of resolute strength.
December 2018 review by Nel Ward.