Harriet Tubman As Moses

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In the new children’s book “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom� by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, you and your kids will read the story of a woman who bravely risked her life to do what she knew to be right

Back when you were a child, your parents probably instilled in you a sense of right and wrong.

They tried to raise you to be fair, honest, and kind. They might’ve taught you to turn the other cheek when people were nasty to you. They showed you how to stand up for yourself with dignity.

Throughout history, those lessons meant more to some than to others. In the new children’s book “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom� by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, you and your kids will read the story of a woman who bravely risked her life to do what she knew to be right.

After a long day of work, Harriet kneels before God and prays for help. She wants to leave the plantation, but she’s afraid… until she hears God’s voice on the breeze, telling her that He will protect her. The next night, she sings a good-bye song to her family and hopes that they understand the hidden message. When darkness cloaks the land, Harriet flees.

As she runs, she finds friends who help her on her journey north. She hides, she walks until her feet bleed and her legs ache, and she hears the voice of God in the water, in the trees, and in her heart. Finally, so close to her goal, two people in a wagon pick Harriet up and take her to Philadelphia, and free soil.  Still, Harriet’s soul aches. She misses her family and she wonders if she’ll ever see them again.  And then God tells her to go back to the south and get them – but first, she must prepare.

Harriet goes to church and finds a stopping place on holy ground in the Underground Railroad. She works with newcomers, she learns how to become a conductor, and she leans on God and on her faith.  Returning to the South, Harriet rescued her family and brought them to safety, but the misery of others still haunts her. And God spoke again. “Save all you can, Daughter.� Because she talked to God as a friend and listened to his advice, Harriet Tubman returned to the South many times. In her author’s note – which you should also be sure to read to your kids - Carole Boston Weatherford says that Tubman freed as many as three-hundred slaves during her years in the Underground Railroad. 

While Weatherford’s words are poetically beautiful and incredibly powerful, illustrator Kadir Nelson’s paintings in this book are almost like a prayer. Pay close attention to Harriet’s hands, which are nearly the focal point of the illustrations.  Study the expressions Nelson gave to Tubman’s face. In the part where she sleeps in the forest, look at the shadows near her slumbering body. Pick up a copy of “Moses� and read it to your child. 

Then go back and look at the pictures again by yourself. The words in this book are inspirational and kids will love them, but right or wrong, the illustrations are what make this book a don’t-miss. 
 
Book Details: “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom� by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson c.2006, Jump at the Sun/ Hyperion Books for Children. $15.99,48, pages.

Schlichenmeyer is a Black Star News Book reviewer

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