cover image Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own Words

Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own Words

Frederick Douglass, Author, Michael McCurdy, Illustrator, Coetta Scott King, Introduction by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $6.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-679-84651-2

In her brief foreword to this significant book, an abridgment of the first of three autobiographies penned by the one-time slave and abolitionist, Coretta Scott King notes that her late husband was ``inspired and deeply moved'' by Douglass's account of his early years. It is easy to see why, for the reader becomes utterly involved in Douglass's eloquent, quietly passionate account of his life as a young slave. Born in Maryland around 1817, Douglass lived on a plantation with his grandparents until the age of six, when he was sent to Baltimore. He served a variety of masters, working intermittently in the city and on farms, and vacillated between feeling ``wearied in body and broken in spirit'' and being fiercely determined to flee to freedom. Douglass's dream was realized in 1838, when he escaped to the North and found work as a caulker in New Bedford, Mass. The preservation of Douglass's original vocabulary, spelling and punctuation lends this trenchant account a formality unfamiliar to today's youngsters, yet the passage of 150 years has not rendered it any less immediate or piercing. McCurdy's distinctive woodcuts emphasize his subjects' vulnerability and their dignity. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)