FREEDOM OVER ME: ELEVEN SLAVES, THEIR LIVES AND DREAMS BROUGHT TO LIFE --a moving and powerful picture book that uses real documents from an 1828 estate appraisal to bring to life 11 people who were named and priced as property
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan (2016, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books; 56 pages)
This is a book about pieces of property and dreamers of freedom. It is also a jewel born from the tenacity and poetry of Ashley Bryan who discovered a real document about real people who were treated as pieces of property on a real plantation. This is a monumental and incredibly powerful tribute to the strength of the human spirit and the power of hope. It is a tribute formed by words and art. Through poems and through paintings, Ashley has imagined eleven lives beyond their simple descriptions, beyond their prices, “for dreams and hopes and loves can never be chained and can never be sold.”
Peggy, age 48, was sold for $150. Imagined and empowered by the author, she tells the reader about herself: “I am the Fairchilds' cook. I work in the Big House, day in, day out, making special meals for the Fairchilds, plain foods for the slaves. Like a field hand, I work hard - all profit to the estate ...”
The title of this book comes from the spiritual “Oh Freedom!,” which likely came into being, tells the author, soon after the end of slavery. Ashley also shares with the reader that she was inspired by the spare information about the slaves. They were listed for sale with the cows, hogs, and cotton, and only their names and prices were noted in the document that she found dated from the 1820s to the 1860s. The goal was to humanize them.
The art in the book is spectacular and gorgeous. It wakes up the soul, and brings the human beings to life. She created painted portraits of each of the eleven slaves, studied each one and listened to each voice. Reading the creation process the author went through is absolutely inspiring and a delight.
A must read for all, every age. Indispensable.
Find this title in our catalog: Freedom Over Me
Recommended by: Maite