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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - HARRIET TUBMAN

Harriet Tubman Hero of the Underground Railroad
written by Lori Mortensen
illustrated by Frances Moore

Picture Window Books
Ages 5-9

Everyone loves a hero! Someone to look up to! Someone who can do superhuman things! Someone who accomplishes deeds that you wish you could!

Superman was a hero, a comic book hero, created by Siegel and Schuster in 1938. Mighty Mouse came on the scene only four years later, in 1942, with the imagination of I. Klein. Mighty Mouse’s refrain, "Here I come to save the day," brought hope to many a distressed cartoon character. As a child I loved Nancy Drew. She was my hero. I couldn’t get enough of her. She was self-confident. She was feisty. She was courageous and brave and honest and independent and strong. She wandered haunted mansions and traveled deep, dark tunnels to find truth; and I read every book I could l lay hand to. Rosa Parks was a hero in 1955. She changed the way our country viewed black people. Her refusal to give up her seat on a bus resulted in a Supreme Court ruling, which said that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.

Harriet Tubman was a hero, too, and Lori Mortensen and Frances Moore give readers a glimpse into her world as they depict the timeline of Harriet Tubman’s life in their very touching, yet poignant book titled, Harriet Tubman Hero of the Underground Railroad.

Imagine being whipped because a baby in your care cried! Imagine yourself as the caregiver and you, only five years old. Imagine life as virtually a prisoner, without bars, living on a plantation in the Deep South! Harriet Tubman didn’t have to imagine. That was her reality! That was her life. But when Harriet was about thirty years old, she escaped from her life of slavery - on the Underground Railroad.

You might imagine that Harriet would be happy enough to be free of the South, but she couldn’t forget the horrors of life as a slave. She also couldn’t forget her family, still enslaved by the masters of the great plantation. So Harriet returned to the south nineteen times more to lead 300 slaves to freedom, including members of her family.

Yes, Harriet was a hero. She was a super woman. She “came to save the day” for many black people. She was strong and brave and courageous as she traipsed through the darkness of night, mile after mile, leading - guiding her passengers (slaves) to freedom on the Underground Railroad. She paved the way for Rosa Parks, too. Yes, Harriet Tubman is a hero, but she is not only a hero of the Underground Railroad, she is a hero for all people all over the world. She made a difference!

Look for a complete review of this book at Smartwriters.com

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This is the story of Harriet Tubman,” said Sarit. “She was born a slave and lived in a small cabin.”

“At five years old, Harriet had to take care of a baby,” said Becky.

“She once got whipped for letting the baby cry,” said Sarit.

Becky shook her head in amazement. “I don’t think that was fair,” she said.

“She shouldn’t have gotten beaten,” said Ethan, “because babies cry - spontaneously. I mean, you make a funny face - they cry! You give them their favorite food - they cry! You do everything you can . . .. and they still cry!

“It’s in their nature,” said Pritka.

“It just wasn’t right for Harriet to get whipped because she never did anything to make the baby cry,” insisted Ethan. “Babies cry!”

“They had bad punishments,” said Timmy, “. . . getting whipped!” His eyes opened wide.

“As a child Harriet endured horrible conditions,” said Ethan.

“It was unfair!” said Pritka. “I don’t even work in my house,” she said.

“I agree with you, Pritka,” said Ethan, “And not being able to have sugar . . . well, that’s a crime!”

“People should be able to have sugar,” agreed Becky.

“But, Harriet was a slave, and at that time, in the early 1800s, slaves were treated like property -- not like real people,” said Pritka.

Ethan nodded knowingly. “People were really foolish! They thought that just because people had different skin color they were different people . . . well . . .  they were, but they weren’t any different from us . . . in the way they were born to be free and independent,” explained Ethan.

“Harriet just wanted to be free,” said Pritka. “In the
Declaration of Independence, they wrote that all “men” were created equal, but they didn’t count slaves. I just really find that unfair.”

“She finally fled to Philadelphia,” said Ethan.

Yeah!” interrupted Becky. “She ran away. That was a very smart idea. I’m glad she ran away.”

“She fled to Philadelphia, where she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad,” continued Ethan.

“Harriet wanted to be free or die trying,” explained Pritka. “Then, when she was free, she helped other slaves escape.”

“She went back to Maryland nineteen times to bring slaves to freedom,” explained Sarit.  “I could never do what Harriet did, because it would be too scary,” she added.

“She was very brave,” said Timmy.

“Harriet risked her life,” said Pritka, so others could be free.”

“I think Harriet is a very good person,” said Becky.

“I think that Harriet Tubman died as a respected American hero,” said Pritka. “She wanted to make other slaves free. And she did it!”

Ethan nodded his head slowly, “Everyone can look up to her – boy or girl,” he said.


IN A LIFETIME: Social Studies/Math/Language Arts

No one knows exactly when Harriet Tubman’s life began. It is believed that she was born around 1820, making her about 93 years old when she died in 1913. Although Harriet was born a slave, she died a free woman. Harriet had a very difficult, yet memorable and remarkable life.

After reading Harriet Tubman Hero of the Underground Railroad, have the children each make a book of Harriet’s life.

1 With the class, make a timeline list on chart paper of the important dates in the life of Harriet Tubman. (see example dates below)
2 Then have each child choose six dates that he or she wishes to write a sentence or two about.
3 After editing the rough draft with each child, type his or her work into the computer and print a copy for him or her.
4 The child then cuts apart each time-section and glues it onto the bottom of a 4” x 6” manila page.
5 Next he or she can illustrate each page.
6 Then have them make a cover for the book by choosing a title and illustrating the cover page.
    Ex. (HARRIET TUBMAN – A HERO by Fall Dawnn)
7 Laminate the pages before stapling into book form.
8 Have a book share – Children join together in a group and each takes a turn reading his or her book to the class.
9 Save completed books in a bin in a student center area for the children to read at their free time or scheduled center time.

Harriet Tubman’s Timeline   Ex.:

1820 born
1825 got whipped because the baby she was caring for cried
1827 ran away because she took some sugar
1844 married John Tubman

IN MY LIFETIME: Social Studies/Math/Language Arts

Have you ever heard a six year old say . . . “When I was little, I used to . . ..? In their short lives they have lived a lot and they have the memories to prove it. So what better way to celebrate their young lives than by making a timeline of their years! They may need a little help from their parents, so a note home to mom and/or dad will be helpful. Ask parents to talk with their child about the main events of their child’s life and help them to make a list of about six important happenings in their child’s life – one for each year. (see my example below)

Then follow the direction above from IN A LIFETIME to make their books.

Donna’s Time Line (until age six)  Ex.:

1948 born
1949 walked
1950 baby sister was born
1951 got first haircut
1952 visited Niagara Falls
1953 started Kindergarten
1954 1st dance recital

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Smithsonian Institute Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman Biography


Harriet Tubman A Woman of Courage by the Editors of Time for Kids with Renee Skelton
ESCAPE NORTH The Story of Harriet Tubman written by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Teresa Flavin
An Apple for Harriet Tubman written by Glennette Tilley Turner; illustrated by Susan Keeter
MINTY A Story of Harriet Tubman written by Alan Schroeder; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

This review can also be seen on SmartWriters .
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