Horn Book Guide Reviews

A fictionalized account based on fact details the early life of Harriet Tubman, whose ""cradle name"" was Araminta, and who would later become a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Quick action and dialogue create a taut story and clearly depict Minty's strong-willed nature and her desire for freedom. Pinkney's watercolors provide detail and depth in this intriguing and emotional portrait. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. According to the author's note, Harriet Tubman's "cradle name" was Araminta; hence the nickname Minty. Minty - born around 1820 on the Brodas Plantation on Maryland's Eastern shore - was strong-willed, independent, outspoken; characteristics neither desired nor tolerated in a slave. So Mistress Brodas moves the eight-year-old Minty from house slave to field hand - much more arduous work - with the threat of "being sold South" always present. As Minty's desire for freedom grows, so does her unwillingness to tolerate the abuse and cruelty of plantation life. Recognizing her growing impatience, Minty's father teaches her survival skills: how to identify the North Star (known as the "Drinking Gourd"), how to swim, how to read moss on trees. Minty knows instinctively that one day she will find the road that, "when she had the courage, would carry her to freedom." This fictionalized account of the early life of the woman who became known as the conductor of the Underground Railroad is based on facts gleaned from the 1869 biography Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People. Quick action and dialogue create a taut story, although it is illustration that shapes the characters. Pinkney's well-crafted watercolors portray a highly idealized young Harriet (as well as parents and extended family) while depicting an unswervingly angry Mrs. Brodas. Pencil lines emerge from the translucent paints to provide detail and depth. m.b.s. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

0-8037-1889-6 ~ A fictional extrapolation of a few facts about Harriet Tubman's childhood--her unruliness, her punishments, and her plans for escape from slavery. ``Minty'' is a small, high-spirited child, cherishing a few moments away from the mistress, Mrs. Brodas, who burns Minty's doll when the girl doesn't come when she's called. From that day, Minty becomes a field slave and begins to acquire the information she needs from others for her future journey. Schroeder (Carolina Shout!, 1995, etc.) is a miniaturist, creating a narrative of handpicked details (Minty's doll with cracked buttons for her eyes) and inspired episodes (Minty's father teaching her to follow the North Star). Told in rhythmic prose and colloquial dialogue, the plot has actual events that are small, but it is rich with melodrama, suspense, pathos, and, of course, a powerful vision of freedom. Pinkney's illustrations exhibit, characteristically, his refined draftsmanship; the complicated compositions convey psychological aspects of slavery and make the individual characters even more distinct. This exquisitely crafted book resonates well beyond its few pages. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

This fictionalized account of Tubman's childhood on a Maryland plantation provides a cruel snapshot of life as a slave and the horrid circumstances that fueled the future Underground Railroad leader's passion and determination. At eight years old, Minty (so-called as a nickname for Araminta) boils with rebellion against her brutal owners and bucks their authority whenever possible. Deeming her too clumsy for housework, Mrs. Brodas banishes Minty to harder work in the fields. Toiling in the hot sun only intensifies Minty's desire to run away to freedom, and soon her father teaches her how to survive in the wild, so that she'll be prepared to make her break one day. Schroeder's (Ragtime Tumpie; Carolina Shout!) choice of lively vignettes rather than a more traditional biography is a wise one. With color and feeling he humanizes a historic figure, coaxing readers to imagine or research the rest of the story. Pinkney's (John Henry) full-bodied watercolors evoke a strong sense of time and place. Laudably, Pinkney's scenes consistently depict young Minty's point of view, giving the harshness of her reality more resonance for readers. A formal author's note follows the text and both Schroeder and Pinkney have included personal messages about the history of the book project. A firm stepping stone toward discussions of slavery and U.S. history. Ages 5-9. (May) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

K-Gr 3 This beautifully illustrated and moving fictional story can be used to introduce Harriet Tubman and the injustice of slavery to young audiences. Minty (Harriet's "cradle" name was Araminta) is a spirited child who hides in order to shirk the commands of the temperamental Mrs. Brodas. When she spills a pitcher of cider, the mistress of the plantation throws the girl's beloved rag doll into the fire and sends her to work in the fields. There, she disobeys the overseer by freeing some muskrats from their traps and is whipped for her willfulness. After this incident, Minty's father takes her dreams of escape seriously and teaches her to survive in the wild. She is tempted to take a horse from in front of the Brodas house and to flee, but hesitates and loses the opportunity. Nevertheless, she vows that someday she will run away. An author's note tells of the realization of her dream and her work with the Underground Railroad. Pinkney's illustrations are outstanding, even when compared to his other fine work. His paintings, done in pencil, colored-pencils, and watercolor, use light and shadow to great effect, and his depictions of Minty are particularly powerful and expressive. This is a dramatic story that will hold listeners' interest and may lead them to biographical material such as David A. Adler's A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Holiday, 1992) and Ann McGovern's Wanted Dead or Alive (Scholastic, 1991). However, with so many real-life incidents from Tubman's childhood to choose from, one has to wonder why Schroeder decided to create fictional ones. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews