She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman

(Middle Grade reading level - No real content concerns, although it does discuss the trauma of slavery)

This book chronicles the life of Harriet Tubman. It includes details about her early life, her work on the Underground Railroad, her service in the Civil War, and her circumstances after the war. Dunbar takes the biographic information about Tubman and combines it with a more informal narrative to imbue humanity into the details of Tubman's life. Tubman's life is so incredible and unimaginable, and Dunbar made her seem human and vulnerable.

This book really demonstrated how biographies should be written for middle-grade readers. Students at that level need to have a connection to historical characters. The emotions and the inner monologue of a person like Tubman makes the story of her life seem much more recent and modern. I flew through this book as it read much more like a novel than a historical biography.

Truly, this is an excellent book. It's a must-have for your classroom library.

About the Book

From the publisher, “Harriet Tubman is best known as one of the most famous conductors on the Underground Railroad. As a leading abolitionist, her bravery and selflessness has inspired generations in the continuing struggle for civil rights. Now, National Book Award nominee Erica Armstrong Dunbar presents a fresh take on this American icon blending traditional biography, illustrations, photos, and engaging sidebars that illuminate the life of Tubman as never before.

Not only did Tubman help liberate hundreds of slaves, she was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War, worked as a spy for the Union Army, was a fierce suffragist, and was an advocate for the aged. She Came to Slay reveals the many complexities and varied accomplishments of one of our nation’s true heroes and offers an accessible and modern interpretation of Tubman’s life that is both informative and engaging.

Filled with rare outtakes of commentary, an expansive timeline of Tubman’s life, photos (both new and those in public domain), commissioned illustrations, and sections including “Harriet By the Numbers” (number of times she went back down south, approximately how many people she rescued, the bounty on her head) and “Harriet’s Homies” (those who supported her over the years), She Came to Slay is a stunning and powerful mix of pop culture and scholarship and proves that Harriet Tubman is well deserving of her permanent place in our nation’s history.”

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