Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Before She Was Harriet

A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist.We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins ...

Details Before She Was Harriet

TitleBefore She Was Harriet
Release DateNov 7th, 2017
PublisherHoliday House
GenreChildrens, Picture Books, Biography, Nonfiction, History, Cultural, African American, Poetry

Reviews Before She Was Harriet

  • Donalyn
    Gorgeous book. I liked the circular nature of the story and the reminder that Harriet Tubman wore many names and roles during her life.
  • Barbara
    Exquisite watercolor illustrations complement an engaging story that allows readers to look back in time on the life journey of Harriet Tubman. I appreciated how the author chose to begin the story near the end of Tubman's life now that she's "tired and worn / her legs stiff / her back achy" (unpaged) after all that she's been through rather than at the beginning. As she reflects on where she's been, readers learn about the many roles she's playe...
  • Emma
    Fantastic verse-like sparse text and gorgeous illustrations. My only complaint is that it has no author's note or back matter.
  • Suz
    There are plenty of picture book biographies of Harriet Tubman, but the Ransomes have created a beautiful and poetic look at her life. Each time the page turns, another part of her life is named and shown. Old woman, suffragist, General Tubman, Union spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, Minty, Araminta...each of those aspects led to the old woman who was "worn and wrinkled and free." While the beautiful watercolors show details of Harriet's world - h...
  • Brenda Kahn
    This is more of an impressionistic biography but a beautiful one. Sparely written - are they poems? Only a few words on each line and not many on each page and nary a comma or period in sight. But these few words are evocative. The illustrations are gorgeous and powerful double-page spreads that depict Harriet Tubman at various stages of her life. I found the second-to-last spread especially poignant as this one depicts a freed Harriet boarding a...
  • Laura
    Wonderful and powerful. Beginning with Harriet Tubman as an old woman, this story traces her role as a suffragist, during the Civil War, as a conductor on the Underground Railroad leading others to freedom, and as a slave working the fields in Maryland. The almost lyrical text is simple but powerful, speaking to Harriet Tubman's strength and determination to fight for freedom.Recommended for grades 4 and 5, students learning about Harriet Tubman ...
  • Aliza Werner
    Harriett Tubman's life and many roles, chronologically backward. I wish there had been some back matter to dive further into those different stages of Harriet's life.
  • Annina Luck
    Great way to tell a story, using all the different names and going backwards! Beautiful illustrations.
  • Amanda
    I love how this travels backwards to tell Harriet's story; the illustrations are gorgeous; and this reads like poetry.
  • Carrie
    Darn right.This is a great piece of art and a great summary of her incredible acts. The last page has a "and this is why we do this" satisfaction to it.
  • Lisa
    This a wonderful biographical picture book about Harriet Tubman. The illustrations are amazing and so is the text. Highly Recommended.
  • Erin
    This beautifully illustrated poetic biography takes you backwards and forwards in the life of Harriet Tubman. Unlike a lot of other books about her, you learn more about her life before she escaped slavery. The watercolors really are fantastic. Good for older kid or preschool storytimes.
  • Alia
    Woo Booooyyy! That was good. Just enough and SO much. Beautiful words and illustrations. Another great book by the Ransomes.
  • Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
    I loved the text and art in this one. Another good one for a mentor text.
  • Chance Lee
    A non-fiction picture book about Harriet Tubman. The illustrations are very nice, particularly with their smart use of lighting. The text isn't overwhelming and delivers a lot of information in few words.
  • mg
    Stunning illustrations paired with lyrical bio-in-verse. It's a lovely glimpse into the life of a social justice lioness. My only tiny complaint (and it's tiny) is that she starts the story waiting for a train and ends the story getting on it, but we don't know where she is headed or why. Clearly, the author/illustrator wanted to show there was still more work to be done for African Americans (Ms. Tubman gets on a different car from the white peo...
  • Jason
    I started skimming what I thought was "just another" book about Tubman, but found myself going back the beginning to read it all more carefully. The way its written, one role per spread, really helps the reader to think about how full and incredible her life really was. the artwork throws a right for the knockout.
  • Mindi
    Great story and beautiful illustrations!!
  • Susie
    To me, this book nears perfection. I look at Harriet Tubman as one of the most interesting figures in history. It seems to me that many people think of her mainly in relationship to the Underground Railroad, whereas she accomplished much, much more. The "before she was" format was ideal, and flows through the entire story in a cohesive way. I think anyone reading this will have many questions and want to learn more! I applied for a study grant on...
  • Mary Librarian
    Both text and illustrations make this book a work of art. I learned new things about Harriet Tubman and was reminded of her bravery. I really hope the Coretta Scott King Committee takes a close look at this one, the Caldecott Committee too.From the advanced reader copy.
  • Edie
    As the author has stated, she presents Harriet as an old woman and then takes us back in time, "erasing the wrinkles" as we learn about her many roles, as a suffragist, a general, a spy, a nurse, a family member, a conductor, a child slave. And always she was a woman of integrity and courage, speaking and acting out, taking care of others. The text is powerful and active with words like readying and always emphasizing the courage and desire for f...
  • Tasha
    Told in reverse chronological order, this picture book biography of Harriet Tubman is stunning. The verse walks readers through her life, from her work with runaway slaves to her speeches as a suffragist. The book touches on other parts of her life that readers may not be aware of such as her work as a Union spy and a nurse. The book moves all the way back to Harriet saving her family from slavery and then her own time enslaved on a plantation wh...
  • Hope McCabe
    1. Awards: None2. 1st—2nd Grade3. Before She Was Harriet is a simple biography of Harriet Tubman for young readers and learners. It follows her life and all her struggles and achievements. Her spirit could not be broken even throughout the strife of slavery. 4. This book is a magnificent story of an inspirational woman who helped changed the course of history. It gives her credit where credit is due. I find it very important for young learners ...
  • Stephanie Bange
    This inspiring poem/picture book biography captures the essence of the many roles that Harriet Tubman played in her life – from (in reverse chronological order) suffragist back to when she was Araminta, a young slave girl. Cline-Ransome has done it again – made a picture book biography into something extraordinary. Her careful selection of text is brief and to the point. What makes this extra special is the fact it was written in reverse chro...
  • Margie
    From the time they are a child their path is clear. Each choice they make regardless of their circumstances is intended to keep them heading in the same direction. For these people the journey is in service of others. For these people help is given, without question, for the betterment of others; especially those lacking the same rights as others.She lived for nearly a century. Before She Was Harriet (Holiday House, November 7, 2017) written by L...
  • Beth Anderson
    This biography stands out from the rest with its lyrical language and creative structure. The story begins at the end of Harriet’s life, inviting the reader to wonder about the causes of her weariness, her worries, her walks under a clear night sky. The author takes us back in time, step by step, to see what Harriet did in each stage of her life. I think history’s great heroes are often hard for young readers to relate to, but by following Ha...
  • Erin
    A series of poetical odes to each role Harriet Tubman played in her life offer a very basic introduction to a true American Hero. A second reading made evident that despite her courage and heroism, and her eventual freedom, she still must ride a segregated train and therefore the work isn't over. Suitable for sharing with young audiences and a beautiful springboard for further discussion and discovery.My only complaint is that there are no additi...
  • Brenda
    This amazing book takes the reader on a backward time travel trip through the life of Harriet Tubman, starting with her as an old woman. Various stages of her life are explored, along with the role she played and what she was called. Harriet was a spy, a suffragist, a nurse, a young woman with dreams of being free, and so much more. She accomplished so much in her life, and is such an inspiration. The minimal text and the watercolor artwork seaml...
  • Madison Ramsey
    This is the story of Harriet Tubman's life. However, it is not about the part of her life that we already know. It is about the different roles she played throughout her life. The story works backwards from her elderly self to her childhood self and back to her elderly self. This story is a great example of a nonfiction picture book. It is one that accurately tells the story of a prominent history character's life. I would use this book in my cla...
  • Taneka
    "...and remember her days as a suffragist, as a General, as a spy, as a nurse, as Aunt Harriet, as Moses, as a conductor, as Minty, as Araminta, who dreamed of living long enough to one day be old stiff and achy tired and worn and wrinkled and free."If you are looking for a more detailed historical note in the rear of the book, you won't find it. However, it does not mean that this is not a good read and a great introduction to the many hats that...