Friday, April 7, 2017
Review: Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan #Multicultural #AtoZblogchallenge #F #CorettaScottKingAwards #Newberry
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, and In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold—dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers”, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess.
This has got to be one of the most compelling children's book I have ever read. The book starts off with hearing from the plantation owner and why she is going to sell. Then the meat of the book begins with the first person's name, age, and story, as well as how much that person is "worth" on opposite pages. The next spread tells of his/her dreams.
I have known, as is possible for me, about slavery and the injustice of it but when I saw a bill of sale, my mouth dropped. I am not talking about something that was made up by the author but a tangible bill of sale. Seeing this made it real and shows the lack of human compassion. Wow!
The eleven human beings in the book were real, the lived, and had no life but had dreams. This is where the author used his power of writing to create those dreams for people who could only hope for such a thing, a voice for the powerless. The author's pen gave them a life, a life they would not have had from the bill a sale.
Not only did the author give them their voice but he also created their looks. He is the one who illustrated the book with collage and painting of each person. These are all in browns, blacks, and beige tones. Their dreams are alive with color and hope.
That was the whole purpose of the book. To make these people human in the eyes of the reader. He accomplished his goals and then some.
This book should be in every library and classroom. If I could, I would give this book much more than the 5 stars I can only give.
If you are not convinced by my review, the book has won the following:
Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
Disclosure: I obtained a copy of this book from my local library. The views here are 100% my own and may differ from your opinions. ~M.M. Hudson