Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

George E. Stanley
Illustrator:  Meryl Henderson 
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416955474

On a cold day in February in 1818 in Maryland, a little baby born was born. His mother, Harriet, was a slave who was owned by Colonel Edward Lloyd. Being a slave, she was not allowed to take care of her baby herself because she had to work in the cotton fields, so Harriet left her baby son, Frederick, with her parents, who were too old to work in the fields and who took care of several slave children.

Harriet did her best to come and see her son whenever she could, but over the years she came less and less often. Then, when Frederick was six years old, his grandmother took him to the Great House. When they got there, Frederick’s sisters and brother showed him around while Grandmother Bailey went to talk “to some people” in the Great House. Grandmother hoped that Frederick would be able to work as a “servant” in the house, instead of being a slave in the fields.

Frederick was not working in the Great House long before he began to learn what it meant to be a slave, and that he was incredibly lucky to be able to work as a house servant instead of a field hand. The field hands were at the mercy of the overseer, Mr. Plummer, who was a hard and cruel man. When he experienced unkindness himself, Frederick couldn’t help wondering why “people can’t be nice to other people,” and he was told that he should not expect kindness from anyone because was a slave. His job was to do what the white people told him to do. When his mistress refused to allow Frederick to attend his mother’s funeral, Frederick decided there and then that one day “he would escape from slavery.”

Children who have heard about what Frederick Douglas did as an adult, will find this story about his childhood very interesting. When they read about his adventures, they will come to understand how events he experienced shaped him, and why he became such a powerful orator and fearless leader.

This is one in a series of books about the childhood experiences of famous Americans.