Freedom Over Me

Writer/illustrator Ashley Bryan is one of the most beloved and one of the most critically praised figures in Children’s Literature. He has received both the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for his extensive body of work. His books have brought joy to countless readers through the years. His latest work takes a more serious turn, but it’s a book that should be widely shared in families and schools. Using historical documents from an 1800’s estate sale, Bryan has given a personality and a voice to eleven slaves. In the author’s note, Bryan states:

“My art and writing of this story aim to bring the slaves alive as human beings. I began by creating painted portraits of these eleven slaves. I studied each one, listening for their voices. I wrote what I heard in free verse to give emphasis to their words. These words tell of their backgrounds and their work on the estate. Then, to bring these people closer, I wrote their inner thoughts as they went about their work, then created the art that illustrates these individuals’ desires to realize their dreams.”

charlotte     qush

I hope you will find this book on our shelves and be touched by these narratives. After reading the book, you can find more information about the places and things mentioned by following these links.

Stephen’s dreams: the stone builders of Zimbabwe

Jane’s dreams: the weaving of Kente cloth

John’s dreams: the Kingdom of Dahomey

Athelia’s dreams: the griots of Mali

Qush’s dreams: the Yoruba people

The Aurora Public Library District has several other of Ashley Bryan’s books including the ones shown below.

all-things-bright-and-beautiful     let-it-shine

sail-away     ashley-bryans-puppets

You can find out more about Ashley Bryan by visiting the link for the Ashley Bryan Center. His autobiography is also a great way to learn about all the ways he expresses his creativity.