Skip to main content

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Floyd Cooper


Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Floyd Cooper is a vital addition to both narrative non-fiction and biographies. A posthumous publication for Myers, a lion of children's literature who will be missed, it feels right to begin this review with Floyd Cooper's dedication: 

For those who are, and aspire to be, self-made.


At the age of nine, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was sent to live with slave owner Hugh Auld and his family. Observant of mistress of the house, Sophia Auld, and the reading lessons she gave children, Frederick's interest and eagerness were rewarded. When Hugh Auld learned that Sophia was teaching a slave to read, he put an end to Frederick's lessons. That did not stop Frederick from seeking out the written word and teaching himself. Young Frederick watched the Auld children grow and pursue dreams of their own, realizing that the life of a slave meant not having dreams. While Frederick became a "reader and a young man who used words well. Sometimes he used them unwisely," and he was sent to a man known for breaking slaves. Frederick refused to be beaten into submission and went on to work in a shipyard, sending all his earnings to his master. There he was exposed to free black men and a layer of understanding and aspiration was again added to his character. When he fell in love with Anna Murray, a free black woman, Frederick planned his escape to the North, using his command of words and intelligence to pass as a freed sailor.



Once in the North and reunited with Anna, he changed his name to avoid slave catchers, becoming Frederick Douglass. He spoke often for the abolitionist society, the rare man who could actually talk about what it meant to be a slave. Douglass had an "eloquence that stirred the souls of his audience," making them wonder if "all the black people working in the fields or on Southern plantations had the potential of this tall and handsome young man." In 1845 at the young age of twenty-seven, his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, was published.

Douglass went on to give speeches that inspired the male delegates of the convention for women's rights at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 to "pass an important amendment demanding that women be allowed to vote." He advised President Lincoln enlist black soldiers as equals in the Union Army, with more than one hundred and eighty thousand joining. He served the United States government in Washington D.C. and as a consul-general in Haiti. Myers ends his book with these timely words, 

The careful and wise decisions made by Frederick Douglass - to learn to read, to escape from slavery to speak out for justice for all Americans, and to aid the Union Army - had helped to write American history . . . His voice, born in the soft tones of the slave population, truly became a lion's roar.

A timeline of Frederick Douglass's Life, a bibliography and the full text of the document officially freeing Douglass are included as backmatter.

Source: Review Copy


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret) The Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…