Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Frederick Douglass: Young Defender of Human Rights

Frederick Douglass: Young Defender of Human Rights

Elisabeth P. Myers
Illustrator:  Cathy Morrison 
For ages 9 to 12
Patria Press, Inc, 2007   ISBN: 978-1882859573

Frederick Bailey was born a slave in Maryland and soon after he was born he was sent to live with his grandmother. Too old now to work for the Old Master, Colonel Edward Lloyd, Fred's grandmother took care of the children who were born to the Old Master's slaves. When Fred was about five or six Fred's grandmother took him to the "home place" to live with the other slaves. It was terrible being separated from his grandmother and in his new home Fred was treated badly. Poorly fed and frequently abused he ran around with the other slave children. He learned his place in the world and wondered that he, who had never done any great wrong, should be forced to live as someone else's property.

Then Fred caught the eye of one of the people who lived in the big house. Miss Lucretia was the master's daughter and she could not bear to see how Fred was singled out for abuse. She decided to send him to Baltimore to live with her brother-in-law Mr. Hugh Auld. In Mr. Auld's home Fred was treated with kindness. He was fed and dressed well and he even managed to learn how to read and write. Fred came to appreciate that having an education was vital; being educated was essential if he ever hoped to escape from his imprisonment.

In the end Fred did manage to escape and he put his education to good use fighting for the cause of his people. He took up a new life speaking in public, writing books and pamphlets, and serving as an advisor to those who wanted to see slavery brought to an end.

Young readers will be fascinated to discover that Frederick Douglass, who is always shown as being a polished and sophisticated gentleman, was once a poor slave child who wore nothing more than a large shirt and who was not allowed to learn how to read until he was eight or nine years old. His is a story of great courage and perseverance and this excellent account of his younger years serves as a fitting tribute to his work and his memory.

This is one of the titles in the excellent "Young Patriots" Series.