Cover image for Chasing freedom : the life journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, inspired by historical facts
Chasing freedom : the life journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, inspired by historical facts
First edition.
Physical Description:
53 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Reading Level:
960 L Lexile
Added Author:
In this imaginative biographical story, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sit down over a cup of tea in 1904 to reminisce about their struggles and triumphs in the service of freedom and women's rights.


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Nikki Grimes offers a glimpse into the inspiring lives of Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman, with breathtaking illustrations by Michele Wood!

What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create CHASING FREEDOM, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century's most powerful, and inspiring, American women.

With breathtaking illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award winner Michele Wood, CHASING FREEDOM richly imagines the experiences of Tubman and Anthony, set against the backdrop of the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women's Suffrage Movement.

Additional back matter invites curious young readers to further explore this period in history--and the larger-than-life figures who lived it.

Author Notes

Nikki Grimes was born and raised in New York City. She began writing poetry at age six and is well-known for writing award-winning books primarily for children and young adults. Bronx Masquerade and Talkin' About Bessie both won Coretta Scott King Awards, and her poetry collections featuring Danitra Brown are very popular. Grimes received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 2006.

She has written articles for magazines including Essence and Today's Christian Woman, as well as hosted radio programs in New York and Sweden. She has lectured and read her poetry at schools in Russia, China, Sweden, and Tanzania. Grimes is also a prolific artist, creating works of fiber art, beaded jewelry, peyote beading, handmade cards, and photography.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Grimes (Words with Wings) creates an absorbing fictional conversation, based on historical incidents and documented quotations, between two indefatigable 19th-century crusaders for equal rights. The author imagines Tubman paying a visit to Anthony's home on the day of the 1904 convention of the New York State Suffrage Association in Rochester, N.Y., where Anthony introduced Tubman as guest speaker. As the two women trade stories about their callings, accomplishments, and aspirations, Grimes adeptly reveals their shared philosophies, faiths, passion, and courage. The women's distinct personalities also surface, as do Tubman's storytelling talents and Anthony's oratory skills. Inspired by American patchwork quilts and African motifs, Wood's (Going Back Home) primitive acrylic and oil paintings incorporate handsome geometric and floral patterns, but it's her piercing portraits of these women that stand out most, accentuating their compassion and resolve. Back matter provides relevant historical notes and brief biographies of Tubman, Anthony, and other like-minded contemporaries mentioned in their conversation, including John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ages 7-10. Author's agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator's agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In this lengthy picture book, best for mid-primary graders, Tubman and Anthony sit down for tea. In a chatty imagined narrative, the women discuss their own lives in the context of major historical events. Inspired by a series of dramatic monologues written by Grimes in 1988, this ambitious project is both intimate and illuminating. Wood's colorful, folksy paintings convey much emotional nuance. Extensive back matter adds value. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* This unusual picture book imagines a conversation that could have taken place if Susan B. Anthony had invited Harriet Tubman to tea in 1904. Each two-page spread introduces a new dialogue, stitching together their memories and their views on matters such as slavery, temperance, women's rights, and John Brown's fight for abolition. Susan describes the hostile reception to her 1861 speeches calling for the emancipation of slaves, while Harriet recalls her journey to South Carolina as nurse, cook, and spy with the all-black Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment. Even readers familiar with each woman individually may occasionally be surprised by what the two contemporaries had in common Grimes notes that they met several times at antislavery and women's rights conventions. While some knowledge of American history is valuable as a framework for their stories, the text conveys a good deal of information in an involving way, and the back matter is uncommonly helpful. Across from each page of text is a striking, iconic full-page portrait, painted in oils and acrylics and often incorporating patchwork-quilt designs. Ready-made for reading aloud in three voices (Anthony, Tubman, and a narrator), this handsome picture book offers an original take on these significant Americans and fresh insights into their times.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

These works of biography and historical fiction immerse young readers in the 19th- and 20th-century struggles for equal rights. MY NAME IS TRUTH The Life of Sojourner Truth By Ann Turner Illustrated by James Ransome 40 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 6 to 10) CHASING FREEDOM The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts By Nikki Grimes Illustrated by Michele Wood 53 pp. Orchard Books/Scholastic. $18.99. (Picture book; ages 5 and up) THE CASE FOR LOVING The Fight for Interracial Marriage By Selina Alko Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko 40 pp. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. $18.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 9) AT HOME IN THE world. The first time I heard this expression, I reveled in the very idea of it. It felt like the perfect life goal for all humankind: a feeling of complete belongingness and freedom, unconstrained by society's perceptions of your capabilities, wherever you happen to be - at home or in public. The phrase resonates in three new picture books that highlight issues of race, gender and justice. These stories - about Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, and the Loving v. Virginia case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage - all have main characters with a steadfast determination to change their lives. They are willing to fight their known hell for an unknown, possibly harsher fate. In each book, the law looms as a character, too, a force that can save lives or kill spirits. And all three books are, in different ways, interracial tales, reminding us that diverse coalitions have always worked together to achieve racial progress. Isabella Baumfree, later known as the legendary preacher and orator Sojourner Truth, was born a slave. Her parents watched helplessly as each of their 12 children was sold off, sent away and never seen again. "My Name Is Truth" begins with an unflinching look at slave life, its harshness and brutality. In one illustration, Isabella is shown standing among sheep, waiting to be sold, as two white men haggle over her price (they settle on $150). After being bought and sold several times, Isabella decides to run away. By running free, she claims herself: "I owned myself now /I was not a slave." She took a new name to go with her new life: Sojourner Truth, because she traveled about, speaking the truth. She earned her name as she went around the country, exhorting abolition and gender equality. Ann Turner's story does not make reference to Truth's famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, a welcome omission. Though it has come to be considered Truth's signature lecture, historians have questioned whether she spoke those exact words, and it has overshadowed her decades-long contributions to the abolitionist movement, becoming a one-note encapsulation of her life's work: "Sojourner Truth. 'Ain't I a Woman?' The end." I hope this invigorating picturebook biography will encourage young people to learn more about Truth, and read some of her speeches. James Ransome's watercolor illustrations are a fine match for Turner's straight-to-the-heart narrative. He captures the shifting heft of Truth's life - the backbreaking labor, the delight of sleeping on a bed for the first time, the power of her sermons over listeners. Some of his illustrations go beyond the words to portray a cosmic, seemingly preordained life of service for Truth. "Chasing Freedom" is another beautiful, richly detailed book, a work of historical fiction that imagines a friendship between Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony. Both women spent their lives working to end slavery and secure equal rights for women. Nikki Grimes's choice of format is notable. The story unfolds in a series of onepage vignettes, each building upon the previous one, as the two women meet for tea one afternoon and look back on their lives and work. This structure allows Grimes to introduce readers to movement leaders of the day. We see Frederick Douglass (who helped Tubman hide slaves in his home), John Brown (who told Tubman of his plan to raid Harpers Ferry) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who founded women's groups with Anthony). Grimes's layered history uncovers the public lives and private ruminations of Tubman and Anthony. In their conversation, set in 1904, the pair talk womanhood and protest. They nod as they discuss the ugliness of gender inequity. Tubman's stories reveal her determination - most notably her 10-year slave rescue mission - and her laments. She expresses sadness (not regret) that her work travels ended her marriage. Anthony's stories, too, detail the cost of her commitment - being vilified by the press, being shouted down at meetings, having doors slammed in her face. Along with presenting absorbing portraits of both women, this story of cross-racial friendship will allow older elementary-school readers to see connections between the abolitionist and women's rights movements. Each of Michele Wood's illustrations is a museum-worthy visual treasure. Her people are surrounded by rich-hued block quilt designs, embedded with symbols, including washboards, drums and crosses. This is a book that works on all levels. "The Case for Loving" tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, who fell in love young and hard. She was black and he was white, and in 1958 it was illegal for them to wed in Virginia. They were able to marry in Washington, D.C., but after returning home they were arrested and charged with "unlawful cohabitation." The judge gave them a choice: jail or banishment from Virginia. They moved to Washington, but later took their fight to the Supreme Court and won. The Lovings did not consider themselves pioneers or crusaders for interracial marriage. In a 1966 Life magazine interview, Richard said: "We are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones. We are doing it for us." Still, they helped change history, and their story is given an added dimension as it is told through the lens of an author and an illustrator who are themselves an interracial married couple. Sean Qualls and Selina Alko collaborated on the skillful artwork that carries the story forward. Pages depicting good times feature symbols of childhood innocence - hearts, flowers, peppermint candies and butterflies. But when the law intervenes to delegitimize the couple's love, the pages are more stark and spare - showing the shock of being arrested and the isolation of their city living. Alko's calm, fluid writing complements the simplicity of the Lovings' wish - to be allowed to marry. Some of the wording, though, strikes a sour note. "Richard Loving was a good, caring man; he didn't see differences," she writes, suggesting, implausibly, that he did not notice Mildred's race. After Mildred is identified as part black, part Cherokee, we are told that her race was less evident than her small size - that town folks mostly saw "how thin she was." This language of colorblindness is at odds with a story about race. In fact, this story presents a wonderful chance to address the fact that noticing race is normal. It is treating people better or worse on the basis of that observation that is a problem. All told, "The Case for Loving" is an engaging and important story, one that invites young people to think about the connections between love, law and justice. Along with "My Name Is Truth" and "Chasing Freedom," it reminds us that for some the struggle to be at home in the world - truly free - has always been a mighty and hard-fought one. ? KATHERYN RUSSELL-BROWN, a professor of laW at the University of Florida, is the author of the picture book "Little Melba and Her Big Trombone."

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-"History is often taught in bits and pieces, and students rarely get the notion that these bits and pieces are connected," writes Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Grimes in her author's note. Here, she and fellow Coretta Scott King-winning illustrator Wood imagine an afternoon tea conversation between suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, where the women take turns relating interconnected stories from their lives. Each spread, including a page of text and a full-page illustration, tells a single anecdote, including personal turning points in each woman's life and major historical events, such as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. In keeping with both activists' strong religious convictions, God and biblical references are invoked often, and Wood's painterly illustrations feature patterns inspired by American patchwork quilts and traditional African motifs. Back matter includes short biographies, additional notes, a bibliography, and an author's note. Textual voice and bold pictorial color are strong, and Anthony's and Tubman's goals maintain relevance at a time when gender and race issues continue to be newsworthy. Skirting the edges of fictionalized biography can be tricky. Although Anthony and Tubman did meet repeatedly, Grimes states that this extended conversation comes purely from her imagination. Younger readers, who may not realize this immediately, may need guidance distinguishing the historical facts from the fictionalized musings. Audiences willing to embrace the unusual concept, though, may view this as a vanguard piece in an engaging newform that mixes nonfiction with historical fiction.-Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Two iconic women recount their stories. In New York state in 1904, a suffragist convention is about to begin, and Susan B. Anthony is scheduled to introduce Harriet Tubman. But first the two women meet at Anthony's home for tea and talk. Grimes artfully creates an afternoon of conversation and reminiscence in carefully constructed, fact-based vignettes that allow each to recount her life, accomplishments and continuing dreams. Each piecethere are 21consists of both narration and dialogue that draw readers into the world of slavery, the Underground Railroad, the struggle for women's rights, the fight for temperance and the dangers of public speaking on unpopular subjects. While not a dual biography, there is a plethora of information about both Tubman and Anthony as well as their times. Intended for reading aloud, the text can be an excellent supplement to 19th-century American studies. Wood's full-page portraits are stunning. The folk-style acrylic-and-oil paintings are vibrant, detailed and emotionally charged. American quilt patterns and African motifs add to the depth of artistry. A tremendous opportunity for children to understand what these women worked so hard to accomplishone succeeding and one coming close. (capsule biographies, additional notes, bibliography, author's note) (Picture book. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.