As a child, I was fascinated by stories of the Underground Railroad. The courage, the ingenuity and the unwavering resolve of those who fought against slavery inspired me. One character in particular stood out in this network to freedom: Harriet Tubman. Born a slave in Maryland around 1820, Tubman was destined to resist the life she was born into. Even as a young girl, she was stubborn, running away, refusing orders and eventually placing herself between her owner and an escaping slave. Tubman's parents, however, had instilled in her something stronger than any of the travails that life had dealt her faith in God.
It is this faith that underpins Carole Boston Weatherford's depiction of Tubman in Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. In this fictionalized telling of Tubman's own escape from slavery as well as her subsequent rescue of other slaves, Weatherford creates a conversation between her character and the Lord. Harriet's questions to God, How far Lord? and Have you deserted me? show a woman who had very human doubts and fears. Much like the biblical Moses to whom she is compared, Tubman struggles with the task that she feels God has given her. Kadir Nelson's richly colored illustrations add a magnificent sense of realism to this superbly told story. Many pages are darkly hued, offering a reminder of the inky nights that escaping slaves faced on their journey northward. Nelson also captures a myriad of emotions etched on Tubman's face. Weatherford, known for her distinctive handling of history in A Negro League Scrapbook, has written a story that will both inform and inspire. Teachers and parents alike will appreciate the inclusion of both a foreword which describes the history of slavery in America and an author's note with background on Tubman's life.