Marching Women’s History: Moses of her People

title: Biography: Harriet Tubman

author: Kem Knapp Sawyer

date: DK Publishing; 2010

“There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; If I could not have one, I would have the other.” ~Harriet Tubman

I love DK books and will buy just about anything they publish. Buying the Biography of Harriet Tubman proved to be no mistake! Most books about Tubman dwell on her time with the underground railroad but this slim volume actually traces Tubman’s life from its ancestral roots with the Ashanti people of West Africa through her death at age 91. Historic and geographic evidence provides readers with an understanding of what Tubman endured, and why. Photographs are provided where possible but so are drawings, documents and maps.

from the jacket:

Harriet Tubman was born into a world most of us can barely imagine. As a slave on a plantation, she could be whipped, beaten, or separated from her family at any time, based only on the whims of her owners. In 1849, she decided she’d had enough–risking her life, she escaped to the free state of Pennsylvania. But in the end, gaining her own liberty was not enough for her. Over the course of the next decade, she embarked on a series of missions to guide other slaves to freedom, earning her the nickname “Moses” and a reputation as one of the foremost antislavery activists in American history.

Although she struggled with financial difficulties after the war, she continued to work for the rights of Blacks and women, adopted a child and opened the Harriet Tubman home to care for the aged. When she could no longer care for herself, she moved into the Tubman Home where she spent the remainder of her days.

“Regardless of how impossible a task might seem…she tackled it with determination to win.”

~Harriet’s grandniece Alice Bricker

Marching Women’s History: While at war

Tasting the sky: a Palestinian childhood

by: Ibtisam Barakat

Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2007

from the flap

In this powerful, groundbreaking memoir, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage she stitches together memories: fleeing from her home and becoming separated from her family as the Six-Day War breaks out; the harshness of life as a Palestinian refugee; and her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and his family of letters. As language becomes her refuge-a true home that can never be taken away-she begins to piece together the fragments of her splintered world.

Alef the letter

is a refugee.

From paper

To paper

He knows

No home.


Alef the letter,

He is the shape

Of a key

To the postal box

Of memory.


Alef the letter

sits in the front

of the bus

Of alphabets

To see.

He sees war,

He looks above it.

He sees war’

He looks below it

And beyond it

To see peace.


Alef knows

That a thread

Of a story

Stitches together

A wound.


Alef the letter,

He’s the shape

Of hope.

Like me,

A refugee.


For me,

My refuge.

Read an excerpt.

Making History

The Feminist Texan has been celebrating women’s history month with really nice giveaways. Right now, it’s Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi.

Zetta Elliott expounds on her experience as a Black feminist in publishing on Women Doing Literary Things.

KidLitCelebrates Women’s history is full of great book related posts for this month included Doret’s post full of picture books based on the lives of women of color and today’s post by Tonya Bolden which highlight her many non-fiction works on women throughout history.

And finally, this new source of information for those serving incarerated youth was posted on my INLibraries listerv.

In order to initiate a nationwide discussion, all school, public, academic, and special librarians who provide or support the provision of library services to incarcerated youth are invited to a new wiki.
The project is just beginning, its members have a ton of great ideas, and they would like you to join in the discussion!

All across America, youth are incarcerated or detained with little or no access to high-interest books or engaging programming. Research has shown that free and independent reading is the number one tool to
improve literacy. Literacy is a vital component to reducing recidivism as well as of utmost importance in a democratic society.  Appropriate library services and programs to incarcerated youth are vital to providing and improving detention based services.  Because youth come from and will return to all communities, library services to incarcerated youth is vital to all communities.

The purpose of the wiki is to share best practices in library programming and services to incarcerated youth amongst those providing those services, to share best practices with those seeking to deliver library services to incarcerated youth in their communities, and to encourage librarians in all communities to promote, support and provide outreach of the highest quality to incarcerated youth in their communities.

We are looking forward to a meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans. We have a tentative scheduled date of Saturday, June 25th from 8-9 pm.  Please add your name to the wiki and watch for UPDATES to time, place and venue. Mark your calendars!



Marching Womens History: Almost

Almost A Woman by Esmeralda Santiago

Viking Books, 1998

from the back of the book:

In this memoir, the acclaimed author of When I Was Puerto Rican continues the riveting chronicle of her emergence from the barrios of Brooklyn to the theaters of Manhattan.

Negi, as Santiago’s family affectionately calls her, leaves rural Macun in 1961 to live in a three-room tenement apartment with seven young siblings, an inquisitive grandmother, and a strict mother who won’t allow her to date. At thirteen, Negi yearns for her own bed, privacy, and a life with her father, who remains in Puerto Rico. Translating for Mami at the welfare office in the morning, starring as Cleopatra at New York’s prestigious Performing Arts High School in the afternoons, and dancing salsa all night, she yearns to find balance between being American and being Puerto Rican. When Negi defies her mother by going on a series of hilarious dates, she finds that independence brings its own set of challenges.

At once a universally poignant coming-of-age take and a brave and heartfelt immigrant’s story, Almost a Woman is Santiago’s triumphant journey into womanhood.

Santiago’s latest book, Conquistadora will be in stores on 15 July.

Marching Womens History: Profiles in Fashion

Before I start today’s feature, please let me mention two ways to help Japan that my interest you. If you visit PaperTigers blog, you can find out a couple of very creative sites that are raising money for Japan via artwork, books donate by authors and author thoughtful initiatives.





Profiles in Fashion: Vera Wang by Lisa Petrillo 

Morgan Reynolds Publishing, 2011


Like many young adult biographies, Vera Wang is part of a series. While the cover is meant to give the illusion of satin from one of Wang’s design, it appears as a flat, white sheet. This may distract readers who are not already familiar with Wang’s work from wanting to read this book. I’ve read several biographies about women where I learned more about the events that surrounded the subject so, consequently I approach books in non-fiction series with caution. This book truly focuses on Wang’s life beginning with the early travels of her family that introduced her to elegance to the important role her father played in her career. Vera’s story is clearly told. It’s easy to look at someone who is so successful and not realize they had to work their way to the top, as Wang humbly did. I do wish the book would give us a better idea of what it was like for an Asian American woman to rise in a sea of European men. I think seeing how she overcame such obstacles would prepare young girls of color in industries that remain male dominated. The book is printed on very poor quality paper that distracts from really nice photography work.  Until I can afford a Vera Wang creation of my own, this book will have to do!

The book is well documented with source and bibliographic information.


Marching Womens History: Speak!!!!

Speak so you can speak again: The life of Zora Neale Hurston by Lucy Ann Hurston and the Zora Neale Hurston Estate; 2004 Doubleday

“That hour began my wanderings. Not so much in geography, but in time. Then not so much in time as in spirit.”

This biography of Zora Neale Hurston was written by her niece, Lucy Anne Hurston. Zora’s life is documented through an interactive collection of photographs, poetry, articles, cards, handwritten notes and a CD with never before published poems.  As appealing as the book becomes with these life-like additions, this is not picture book! Hurston tells a rich story of her aunt who lived and worked in the early twentieth century as an anthropologist, journalist, essayist, playwright and novelist.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”



Color Online (written by Karen L. Simpson)

“Mama exhorted her children to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”

Marching Womens History: Headwraps

Georgia Scott, Art Director, NY Times

In, 2000, Georgia Scott became fascinated with the fad in the US Black community of wearing headwraps. Her passions overtook her, she re-arranged her life and parted for a year-long voyage to discover why women in various parts of the globe cover their heads, who wears headwraps and what they have in common. She seemed to have found more variations than commonalities. Head coverings can be made of silk, muslin, gauze, wool or other fabrics that are tied, wrapped, folded or twisted.

In many countries, such as India, Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates, they are worn mainly for religious reasons. The way a headscarf is worn in the United Arab Emirates, for example, not only indicates a woman’s country of origin, but also hints at her interpretation of the Qu’ran and its edicts on feminine modesty. In other regions, headwraps reinforce social differences, distinguishing the wealthy from the poor, men from women and clans from other clans. Or they mark major events. In some ethnic communities in rural China, for example, a headwrap indicates a woman’s coming-of-age: the embroidery work on the turban of a young Yao woman in the mountains of Thailand indicates that she is able to make clothes for the family and is therefore ready for marriage. In some countries headwraps are an integral part of daily life. In Morocco, Mali and Niger, for example, harsh climate conditions make headwraps a daily necessity, while in other countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, traditional headwarps are reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and official state functions.

Headwraps are worn in atleast 44 countries in the worlds. In her travels, Scott traveled to 32. While she includes men’s head coverings in her writing, she admits what they wear pales by comparison to the women’s attire. The use of headwraps in these countries is changing through the effects of globalization. Scott has been able to document important cultural images and offer interesting insights to the nuances of what is worn on heads around the globe.

The bright, attractive photos will attract reluctant readers while students who are interested in history, geography, cultural and women’s issues will naturally gravitate to this book.