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Before She Was Harriet facts for kids

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Before She Was Harriet
Author Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrator James E. Ransome
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's picture book
Publisher Holiday House
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 32
Awards Coretta Scott King Award
ISBN 978-0-8234-2047-6
OCLC 51795

Before She Was Harriet is a 2017 children's picture book written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome, first published by Holiday House. It was awarded an honorary Coretta Scott King Award in 2018.


This children's picture book details the life of Harriet Tubman in a free verse journey on a train. It begins with Tubman as an old woman and moves backwards chronologically. The author outlines the many roles of Tubman: a suffragist, a boatman who ferried slaves across the Combahee River, a Union spy, a nurse for soldiers, a savior who helped her parents flee from slavery, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a slave named Minty, and finally a young slave named Araminta. She chooses to change her name to Harriet when she leaves slavery. The book ends with a picture of Tubman sitting on a train, finally free.


The book was written and illustrated by husband and wife team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome. They have previously collaborated on fifteen books together. Cline-Ransome was nervous about approaching a book on Tubman, as there were already so many of them. Her husband did some research and suggested she write about Tubman's many roles in life. Ransome had already illustrated books about slavery before, so finding references was not a problem. Instead of painting historically accurate images, he focused on making them emotionally accurate.

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