Sandra A Agard, Harriet Tubman

Canongate, 2020, ISBN 978-1-78689-965-1

This is a valuable biography of a true hero. As many will know, Harriet Tubman was a slave who escaped from her plantation in Maryland to freedom, then returned many times over to help others to reach the free states or Canada, despite enormous risks. Slave owners hated her and there was a huge price on her head. Her bravery was legendary and inspirational in her time, and remains so. She became a well known abolitionist, in great demand as a public speaker. During the Civil War she worked both as a nurse and as a spy. She was made a commander of intelligence operations. The first and only woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War - the Combahee River Raid led to the liberation of 700 slaves - she became internationally famous, but despite her service in the Union army she was virtually penniless afterwards. For the rest of her long life she continued to actively campaign for the rights of people of colour and of women, and was an acclaimed speaker into her old age.

Sandra A Agard is a storyteller, writer and cultural historian. This account of Harriet Tubman's life is her first book for children, and it is impressive. The prose is clear, direct and very informative, with lots of interesting facts. The press release suggests the book is suitable for 8-10 year-olds, but 9-11 is probably nearer to the mark, in view of the level of the language and the historical detail. Numerous illustrations help make the book attractive and accessible. There is a useful timeline as well as a glossary, an index and suggestions for further reading.