|Mumbet's Declaration of Independence|
Author: Woelfle, Gretchen
Mumbet's Declaration of Independence tells the story of a Massachusetts slave from the Revolutionary era--in 1781, she successfully used the new Massachusetts Constitution to make a legal case that she should be free.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.40
Points: .5 Quiz: 164347
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 3.20
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 63690
Common Core Standards
Grade 1 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 1.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 2 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 2.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 2 → Reading → RI Informational Text → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 1 → Reading → RI Informational Text → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → Texts Illustrating Complexity, Quality, & Range of
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/13)
School Library Journal (01/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (05/14)
The Hornbook (00/05/14)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2014 Gr 2–4—Elizabeth Freeman, known as "Mumbet," was an African American slave in 18th-century Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 included the provision, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights." Using that document as a basis, Mumbet, with the support of a young lawyer named Theodore Sedgwick, challenged the legality of slavery. As a result of their efforts, in 1783 slavery was declared unconstitutional and 5000 slaves in the state gained freedom. Vividly colored illustrations reflect the generally hopeful tone of the story, while bold compositions and thickly layered paint suggest folk art. Freeman's strength of character is reflected in her determined facial expressions and strong stance. While her story is highly inspiring, details about her life are sketchy; information comes primarily from an account written by Catharine Maria Sedgwick, the daughter of Theodore. While this picture book is presented as nonfiction, the story itself is highly fictionalized. An author's note explains what is known about Mumbet and reminds readers that "History is fluid."—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2014 This nonfiction picture book tells the story of Mumbet, later Elizabeth Freeman, a Massachusetts slave who was inspired by the American fight for freedom to sue her owner, Colonel Ashley, for her freedom—and won. The book incorporates historical incident, such as Mumbet’s defense of her daughter against her mistress’ blows, while adding an artistic (if occasionally stilted) fictionalized touch in Mumbet’s recurring use of natural imagery; the story also foregrounds the inarguable contradiction between the growing discourse about liberty, especially the Massachusetts Constitution on which Mumbet bases her case, and the lot of the enslaved who labored for many ardent freedom fighters. The case is fascinating, emphasizing the destructive irony at the heart of the birth of America and making Mumbet an active and savvy architect of her own release, and this is likely to spur much discussion. Delinois’ thickly painted, expressionist illustrations suggest Gregory Christie at times in the faces; however, their saturated colors are often garish and poses frequently stiff. Additionally, the focus on sweeping planes of color leaves details sometimes unarticulated and makes period housing and clothes improbably dazzling and tidy. End matter considerably enriches the narrative, with details about Mumbet’s post-case life with her lawyer’s family, notes on things still unknown about Mumbet, and a telling paragraph about the changes over the years in tours at the Ashley House, which now prominently discuss Mumbet and her case, in addition to a bibliography and website list. DS - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 05/01/2014 Mumbet is owned by Colonel John Ashley, but she longs to be free. As the Founding Fathers work on the Declaration of Independence, Mumbet overhears the men discussing the phrase, free and independent. Seven years later, when Mumbet slips into the back of a town hall meeting about the Massachusetts Constitution, she hears, All men are born free and equal—and she decides to test the new law. So she visits a young lawyer who is so impressed with her determination that he decides to take her case. Surprisingly, Mumbet won freedom for herself and her daughter, and her case led to slavery being declared unconstitutional in Massachusetts in 1783. Mumbet’s still largely unknown story came to light through letters and journal entries written by her lawyer’s daughter. Delinois’ minimalist but highly evocative acrylic illustrations add depth to the sensitive, inspiring text. A great addition to picture-book collections of American history. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.