So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter. PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY. Roaring Brook (Holtzbrinck), 2018. $19. 9781626728721
BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ADVISABLE
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Sojourner Truth, originally named Isabella Baumfree, has been called one of the most significant Americans of all time. Born into slavery in the state of New York in the 1790s, Isabella was a hard worker who had several masters, first sold away from her mom when she was nine. After a current master reneged on his promise to free her, Isabella ran away with her infant daughter and gained her freedom with the help of an abolitionist couple. She then worked for her children’s freedom, and then for freedom for all slaves, and eventually for the rights of women and the poor. She walked across the country several times spreading her message.
The text is very poetic, and the perfectly complimentary illustrations are at times dreamlike and at times full of brutal details. On the first page of every section, large introductory text starting “In slavery time…” borders a panel illustration. On the last few spreads, this large introductory text changes to “In freedom time…” Sojourner’s struggles, strength, and determination are beautifully captured. A biographical section supplies additional information, though other sources would be needed to fill in more details of her life.
P.K. Foster, MLS, elementary school teacher-librarian