cover image Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge

Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge

Ray Anthony Shepard, illus. by Keith Mallett. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99

In a stunning picture book debut, historian Shepard pens a free verse poem addressing Ona Judge, a young Black woman who emancipated herself from George and Martha Washington’s ownership. Born to an enslaved Black seamstress and a white indentured servant, Ona grew up conscripted as a playmate for the Washingtons’ grandchildren until she was taken from her mother at age 16 and made a personal servant to Martha Washington. Employing the refrain “Why you run Ona Judge?” Shepard crafts impactful metaphors (“You were his money walking out the door”) and incisive questions, exposing the fallacy of Ona’s “good” treatment by conveying the inherent dehumanization that she and other enslaved people experienced. Tonal paintings by Mallett incorporate fabric collage, lending a sense of both immediacy and historicity. An evocative portrait that keenly interrogates the structures upon which America is built. Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, acknowledgments, and list of places to visit. Ages 3–6. [em](Jan.) [/em]