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Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth [Paperback]

Anne Rockwell , R. Gregory (Ilt) Christie , Gregory (Ilt) Christie

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Book Description

Dec 2002
A powerful picture book biography of one of the abolitionist movement's most compelling voices.

Sojourner Truth traveled the country in the latter half of the 19th century, speaking out against slavery. She told of a slave girl who was sold three times by age 13, who was beaten for not understanding her master's orders, who watched her parents die of cold and hunger when they could no longer work for their keep. Sojourner's simple yet powerful words helped people to understand the hideous truth about slavery. The story she told was her own.

Only Passing Through is the inspiring story of how a woman, born a slave with no status or dignity, transformed herself into one of the most powerful voices of the abolitionist movement. Anne Rockwell combines her lifelong love of history with her well-known skill as a storyteller to create this simple, affecting portrait of an American icon.

From the Hardcover Library Binding edition.

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Strangers stared while the auctioneer poked and pointed at the girl with his stick-showing how tall and strong she was. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She could not be silenced 13 Sep 2002
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on Amazon.com
Many a young reader will be shocked by the opening page of this story about slavery in the U.S. For the auction block from which a 9-year-old girl was sold in 1806 was in Kingston, N.Y., not Alabama or Mississippi.
Isabella was sold only after a long day in which no bidders showed any interest--until the auctioneer threw in a flock of sheep. She was separated from her aged, ill parents, who were left to fend for themselves, having been worn out by cruel masters. Hell followed for Isabella, for her new master spoke English while she spoke Dutch--like most people in the Hudson valley. For not understanding, he whipped her so hard that her back bore the scars all the rest of her life.
She was sold to a tavern-keeper and, when she was 13, to a neighboring farmer named John Dumont. At 16, she was six feet tall and could do the work of any man. She was forced to wed, against her will, and bore four daughters and a son. In 1817, New York enacted a law that would free all slaves on July 4, 1827. By then, Isabella was 28. But when Dumont reneged on his promise to free her, she ran to a nearby farm, believing that its abolitionist owners would save her. The Van Wageners bought and freed her.
Dumont, however, sold her son Peter to an Alabama plantation owner. To sell a slave out-of-state was then illegal in New York. Isabella took the unheard-of step of hiring a white lawyer to plead a court case for the return of her son. She won, he returned, she sent him to school, and he became a sailor on a whaling ship.
After Peter left, Isabella dreamed that she should travel the U.S. and tell people of her bondage. She took the name of Sojourner Truth. The final pages of this adventure tell some of the accomplishments of this American heroine. The illustrations greatly compliment the story, accentuating the iron will of a woman who would not be bought, or silenced.
The book concludes with a one-page author's note and a chronology of the events of Sojourner Truth's life. In the former, the author writes of those times when evil rules, and good people feel called upon to tell the truth to those who do not wish to hear.
Sojourner Truth was such a person, and she lived in such a time. Children find this story inspirational. Alyssa A. Lappen
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Voice of Freedom..... 2 July 2001
By Roz Levine - Published on Amazon.com
Anne Rockwell's moving picture book biography of Sojourner Truth is a powerful and evocative story that will draw youngsters in and take them on a journey toward freedom with an amazing woman. Born into slavery, Isabella was taken away from her parents when she was only nine, sold three times, threatened, beaten and lost her own children to slavery before she was finally freed. Though she never learned to read or write, she challenged the system of buying and selling people in court, traveled around the country, spoke out against slavery and became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement. She was a sojourner, one who is only passing through and her mission was to speak the truth about the evils of slavery..... Ms Rockwell's passionate and eloquently written biography is complemented by Gregory Christie's beautifully rich paintings and together they've authored a story about this remarkable woman that's full of courage and strength. With an author's note and timeline at the end to augment and enhance discussions, Only Passing Through is a wonderful book, perfect for youngsters 9-12 and a story few will soon forget.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important Story 27 Aug 2012
By Ohioan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This picture book tells the story of Isabella, born into slavery, but freed by New York state law before the Civil War. When a former master sells Isabella's son Peter, acting against state law, Isabella takes the white man to court and wins. Her child is brought back from the South. In a dream, Isabella hears a voice telling her she must leave New York. So she begins to travel and changes her name to Sojourner Truth. As Sojourner, she fights against slavery and for women's rights, though the latter isn't covered in this book. Nor is the Civil War. What is in this book is inspiring, but iIt seems strange to me that the story of this important person in American history does not include her struggle for women's rights or the war which freed the slaves. Every time I read this book, I feel as if the story stops in the very middle of Sojourner Truth's life.
2.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to like it, unsatisfying 29 April 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Very unsatisfying read.
Seemed like dry facts cobbled together from someone's ramblings, then ended sort of with a whimper. I actually looked to see if there was a missing page as it ended so arbitrarily.

Mentions son Peter, who she fought to have returned to the state. She wins in court, then instead of ending Peter's story with his mother's victory, it goes on to say he goes off to work on a ship, letters stop coming, and she figures he must be dead. Talk about pointless and anticlimactic.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story for All Times, All Races, All Ages 29 Jan 2007
By Helen Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderful book for all young men and women to read. The lessons it teaches, from being "the new kid", to "the foreign kid", to "the abandoned and abused kid" to being "the black kid" certainly ring as true today as they did in Sojourner Truth's Day. The author's passion for the subject, and the illustrators moving illustrations reach out and touch readers, and inspire them to look into their own lives to be certain they are helping to create a diverse society. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King. This book would be a wonderful story for kids to act-out in class for Black History Month. The author certainly seems to know about race relations, and peace. I recommend this for all parents who want to raise children who see people with their hearts, and not their eyes. Who see no color, just the glorious traditions, rich heritage, tremendous courage, and incredible art that comes from being downtrodden for generations.
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