Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass

illus. by London Ladd. 48p. chron. further reading. notes. websites. Disney/Jump at The Sun. Nov. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423114383.
Gr 3–5—Frederick Douglass's journey from slavery to international renown as writer and lecturer is broadly sketched here. Readers meet Douglass eye to eye as he gazes, serious and frowning, from a commanding portrait filling the entire front cover of the large square picture book. An unusual design choice places the title and creator names in bold text on the back cover. The poignant childhood years, some enjoyed and others endured, make for a touching, memorable story. About a third of the work is devoted to Douglass's adulthood. Emphasizing his role as a man of words, Rappaport includes frequent quotations. She focuses on Douglass's oratory and writing accomplishments but tells almost nothing of the man's personal life. In a rare specific example when she does, readers learn that Douglass's friends bought his freedom for $710.96. He went on to lecture in Great Britain and Ireland, started a newspaper, became friendly with Abraham Lincoln, and was involved with the Underground Railroad. Although the book features a concluding list of "Important Dates," Rappaport often neglects to mention where and when key events occurred: overall, this is a quick introduction accompanied by some striking visuals. Ladd casts a sepia glow in handsome scenes of key figures, and his illustrator's note adds a fun light on his painting of them. The many existing children's books about Douglass include works by well-known writers, some of which are included in the "Selected Research Sources" section.
VERDICT Eloquent in part—though a bit skimpy, too—this is an attractive and versatile package.

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