Molly's Reviews

Go Down, MosesGo Down Moses
Arline Chase
Write Words Inc, 2002

Good Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

The book opens with a discussion of what slavery is, touches on Abolition here in the United States and explains the Under-ground Railroad. Minty Lou Ross and how she came to be called Harriet is explained. Harriet was the child of Ben Ross and Hattie Greene, she grew up living in slavery on the Broadas Plantation, never learned to read or write, but developed strong family ties. When grown she married John Tubman, who had white relatives. Harriet determined she would buy her freedom. She felt betrayed to discover that Hattie's old owner had set up plan for Harriet and her children to be freed upon his death, however there was a requirement that Hattie take her children and leave within a stated time frame. The Heirs knew that, but did not tell Harriet, so the family slavery continued.

After Tubman stole her savings Harriet walked away north. Arriving in Pennsylvania she set about helping others find freedom. The First seeking freedom that she spirited on the Under-ground Railroad was her sister and her sister's children. In 1851 disguised as man Harriet set out south to find John, despite his bad treatment of her she wanted to help him north. Soon she knew that John would never leave the south and his white relatives. For eight years Harriet made nineteen trips south to guide groups of runaway slaves north. Often she led members of her own family to Canada where they no longer feared being returned to owners. December 1854 Harriet went south to bring her brothers out. Quilts hanging on the line behind houses were used as signals, slave hunters with dogs were out in force. By 1857 the old Broadas Plantation sold and the had come for Harriet to get Ben Ross and Hattie Greene. The old folks were then eighty years old and could not walk all the way to Canada. Harriet managed to get them on board a northbound train in middle of night.

In 1861 Harriet went south to help doctor the union soldiers. Called General Tubman, Harriet financed herself and was not paid by the army. After the war she was denied compensation promised by the Federals. Harriet never wavered in her determination that all should have rights. Speaking out for right of women to work and vote she was tireless in her efforts. She died in 1913 of pneumonia at age 93.

Writer Chase has produced an excellent work in her book "Go Down Moses". Based on the life of one of our nation's earliest advocates for the rights of all people to enjoy freedom, the right to work, the vote and the right to determine their own life Writer Chase had crafted a book sure to please teachers, parents and young people alike. The name Harriet Tubman is found on the pages of history books, Writer Chase brings her alive. Tubman was an extraordinary woman under any circumstance. Writer Chase has taken facts of her life to weave a tale filled with excitement, the right amount of history and machination to keep kids turning the pages.

This is a book I would use in my own classroom. We can never have too many good, child geared materials based on historical fact available for teachers. This is an excellent addition to the teaching unit, and lends itself as a 'fun read' book for children to use for free reading time. Vocabulary found in "Go Down Moses" is a little advanced. "Go Down Moses" is a read-to for younger readers in the 5-7 group, is a read with help for the more mature 7-8 and a read alone for the skilled 8-11 set.

One suggestion a few simple line drawing illustrations would help clarify some of the terminology. Children today often have not seen either a quilt or clothesline, illustration of digging for roots would aid understanding for children who are used to medicine from a bottle.

Enjoyed the book.





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