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John Brown: His Fight for Freedom

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Published on the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, this biography explores the life of one of American history’s most controversial figures. A great deal of academic study has been published recently about John Brown. This is the first book for young readers to include these new attitudes and research.   In the late 1850s, at a time when many men and w Published on the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, this biography explores the life of one of American history’s most controversial figures. A great deal of academic study has been published recently about John Brown. This is the first book for young readers to include these new attitudes and research.   In the late 1850s, at a time when many men and women spoke out against slavery, few had the same impact as John Brown, the infamous white abolitionist who backed his beliefs with unstoppable action. His dedication to freeing the American slaves made him one of the most recognizable leaders in the liberation movement to end slavery.   Told through engaging, thoughtful narration and bold, dynamic illustrations, John Brown: His Fight for Freedom is a fitting reminder that all men and women are created equal, and that some things are worth fighting for. The book includes an author’s note, a bibliography, and an index.   F&P level: U


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Published on the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, this biography explores the life of one of American history’s most controversial figures. A great deal of academic study has been published recently about John Brown. This is the first book for young readers to include these new attitudes and research.   In the late 1850s, at a time when many men and w Published on the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, this biography explores the life of one of American history’s most controversial figures. A great deal of academic study has been published recently about John Brown. This is the first book for young readers to include these new attitudes and research.   In the late 1850s, at a time when many men and women spoke out against slavery, few had the same impact as John Brown, the infamous white abolitionist who backed his beliefs with unstoppable action. His dedication to freeing the American slaves made him one of the most recognizable leaders in the liberation movement to end slavery.   Told through engaging, thoughtful narration and bold, dynamic illustrations, John Brown: His Fight for Freedom is a fitting reminder that all men and women are created equal, and that some things are worth fighting for. The book includes an author’s note, a bibliography, and an index.   F&P level: U

30 review for John Brown: His Fight for Freedom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    After reading and loving "The Faithful Spy," I decided to look for more works by John Hendrix. For me, this book helps address the border war myths that have swirled around me since my move to Missouri many years ago. The conflict which rose up during the mid-19th century is now more of a simmer and rears its ugly head more often in an athletic context. For those who are natives, it seems to be in their very DNA. The graphics showing the free state controversy when Kansas became a state was most After reading and loving "The Faithful Spy," I decided to look for more works by John Hendrix. For me, this book helps address the border war myths that have swirled around me since my move to Missouri many years ago. The conflict which rose up during the mid-19th century is now more of a simmer and rears its ugly head more often in an athletic context. For those who are natives, it seems to be in their very DNA. The graphics showing the free state controversy when Kansas became a state was most definitely my favorite. I would definitely share this book with middle grades and up in a classroom setting when studying the Civil War. Frederick Douglass may not have been in total agreement with John Brown's plans for Harper's Ferry, but General Tubman was. I don't think it is well known just how many raids Harriet Tubman made on plantations to liberate slaves. It was messy! John Brown was a passionate man and he fought for freedom in ways that many of us do not agree with in our 21st century world. As Hendrix mentions in the Author's Note: "We should remember John Brown because he was not afraid to fight for the freedom of an oppressed people to whom he did not belong." Finally, words from John Brown himself: "I will raise a storm in this country that will not be stayed so long as there is a slave on its soil."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    When a picture-book author is at pains to distinguish his subject's actions from those of a modern-day terrorist, you know that said subject must be a figure of some controversy. Such is certainly the case here, in this children's biography of John Brown, the nineteenth-century radical Abolitionist who believed, not just that slavery should be abolished, but that all races of people were equal, and should be treated as such. Spurred on by a deep commitment to his religious and political ideals, When a picture-book author is at pains to distinguish his subject's actions from those of a modern-day terrorist, you know that said subject must be a figure of some controversy. Such is certainly the case here, in this children's biography of John Brown, the nineteenth-century radical Abolitionist who believed, not just that slavery should be abolished, but that all races of people were equal, and should be treated as such. Spurred on by a deep commitment to his religious and political ideals, and angered by the brutal injustice of slavery, Brown, who had worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad from the time he was a young man, became increasingly involved in the violent side of the movement, fighting with the free-staters in the bloody pre-Civil War conflict in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas"). Eventually, he conceived of a plan to free all of the slaves, a plan that would lead to his infamous raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, his wounding and capture, and then his execution. But even dead, John Brown's story wasn't over, as his name and actions became a symbol to people on both sides of the issue... I'm immensely impressed that John Hendrix attempted this picture-book biography of a man who, even one hundred and fifty years later, still evokes strong responses in most Americans. I think he did an excellent job presenting John Brown's virtues, as well as his weaknesses, and I felt that I learned quite a bit. I'd had no idea, for instance, that Harriet Tubman had agreed to fight with Brown, but had been prevented by illness. Nor was I aware that Brown had the chance, during that fateful raid on Harper's Ferry, to take a multitude of innocent hostages, when a train passed through town, but elected not to. I did feel that there was a disconnect, from time to time, between the narrator's assurances that Brown didn't embrace violence, and the actual choices and actions being depicted, but it's possible that that contradiction accurately reflects the man himself. This is undoubtedly a favorable account of John Brown, and I imagine that it will, as a result, cause discomfort for some readers, particularly those who disagree with Brown's methods. It's a tricky question, isn't it? I mean, the ends can't be said to justify the means, in my view. On the other hand, unless you're a complete pacifist - and hey, if you are, I respect that: I have lots of Quaker and Unitarian pacifist relatives! - then you have to believe that violence is called for at some point, no? And it's hard for me to think of something that cries for it more loudly than slavery... In any case, this is an engaging (and unique) biography of an important figure in American history, and I recommend it to young readers (middle school and up, I'd say) who have an interest in that topic. With the right teacher, I can see it sparking some interesting classroom discussion as well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    Ok, I'm going to say right up front that I have a problem with John Brown. I was always taught in school that he was a hero, but when I got older and read more about what he did, I changed my mind. I think he was a fanatic who felt that the means justified the end. He murdered people in Kansas! And half the time left the women in his family to fend for themselves while he was off on one of his crusades. That kind of person doesn't deserve the title of hero in my book. So I read this book with tr Ok, I'm going to say right up front that I have a problem with John Brown. I was always taught in school that he was a hero, but when I got older and read more about what he did, I changed my mind. I think he was a fanatic who felt that the means justified the end. He murdered people in Kansas! And half the time left the women in his family to fend for themselves while he was off on one of his crusades. That kind of person doesn't deserve the title of hero in my book. So I read this book with trepidation. I was, overall, happy with the text, which pointed out his weaknesses as well as his strengths, and did not gloss over the killings in Kansas. I'd have given this 4 stars if the illustrations hadn't made him look like a patriotic good guy. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have been against slavery; I just think he should have listened to Frederick Douglass and found another means of fighting against it. I think this is a good book to use in class to generate a discussion about John Brown's ethics, so I recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    I am awed by Hendrix's sheer audacity in taking on such a complex topic for a picture book biography and even more impressed with what a stunning success it is! I am awed by Hendrix's sheer audacity in taking on such a complex topic for a picture book biography and even more impressed with what a stunning success it is!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    Wow! It’s hard to know how to rate or review this book. It’s a very “heavy” book for kids, and definitely for older children, I’d say 9-13. In the author’s note, and implied in the book proper, the author makes a point of expressing how John Brown’s actions were for the greater good, for his principles. The author didn’t quite convince me, though his arguments are admittedly compelling. The story tells about John Brown’s fight for equal rights for black people and his fight to end slavery in the Wow! It’s hard to know how to rate or review this book. It’s a very “heavy” book for kids, and definitely for older children, I’d say 9-13. In the author’s note, and implied in the book proper, the author makes a point of expressing how John Brown’s actions were for the greater good, for his principles. The author didn’t quite convince me, though his arguments are admittedly compelling. The story tells about John Brown’s fight for equal rights for black people and his fight to end slavery in the United States. The account is very interesting, although at times the book read as something a reader would read for a book report. It’s not that it’s boring; it’s not, but it does read as a straight history book. I liked how Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass make appearances, and I did learn quite a bit about the specific events, though at the end the author does say some specifics were fictional, so I do wonder which were factual and which were artistic license. Some of the events and images are shocking, not the least of which is the noose around Brown’s neck, and some dead people. The illustrations for the most part are wonderful. Both some pictures and some quotes/text have a three dimensional appearance, which is particularly effective in the more intricate, busy pictures. The best thing about this book, I think, is that it is effective fodder for discussion of the issues addressed, the most crucial of which is to what lengths does one go for what one believes in. Though I admire his dedication, I don’t personally agree with John Brown’s actions. The author does do a good job though of explaining the times and circumstances and why Brown’s behaviors might have been as they were. Very thought provoking! Perhaps this book was meant to be inspiring, and it was educational, but I found it rather depressing and quite disturbing. 3 ½ stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Interesting book -- John Brown is a complicated figure, and hard to explain in a way that makes sense for kids. But this book has a pretty good layout of his life, and the author's note adds a lot to the story, to the discussion about believing the right thing but maybe not having the right tactics, and about how his faith shaped his radicalism. I could see using this with say, fifth graders -- there's a lot here to talk about, and the illustrations are fantastic. Interesting book -- John Brown is a complicated figure, and hard to explain in a way that makes sense for kids. But this book has a pretty good layout of his life, and the author's note adds a lot to the story, to the discussion about believing the right thing but maybe not having the right tactics, and about how his faith shaped his radicalism. I could see using this with say, fifth graders -- there's a lot here to talk about, and the illustrations are fantastic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    The classic historical figure brought to vivid life. This book was published on the 150th anniversary of the Harpers Ferry raid and includes some new research on this controversial man. Hendrix paints him as a common, ordinary man who had views and opinions which he could not ignore. In a tumultuous time period, John Brown was a man who stood up for what he believed in... and paid the ultimate price. Was he a saint or a madman? Maybe this book will help you and your middle-aged students decide.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Kirkus Reviews John Brown, with a makeshift flag in one hand and a tiny African-American tot cradled in the other, stands heroically on the jacket of this handsome picture-book biography. His face may be wizened and worn, but his eyes are fixed solely on the future, where he believed one day blacks would become not only free but equal. Often considered a madman or, at best, a tyrannical abolitionist, Brown had another side-one that was so overwhelmed by injustice that he simply had to act. Blood Kirkus Reviews John Brown, with a makeshift flag in one hand and a tiny African-American tot cradled in the other, stands heroically on the jacket of this handsome picture-book biography. His face may be wizened and worn, but his eyes are fixed solely on the future, where he believed one day blacks would become not only free but equal. Often considered a madman or, at best, a tyrannical abolitionist, Brown had another side-one that was so overwhelmed by injustice that he simply had to act. Blood was shed as a result, especially in his attack on pro-slavery settlers in Kansas and the failed raid on Harper's Ferry, but compassion fueled his fight. In sweeping acrylic washes and with speech bubbles that unfurl across entire spreads, Hendrix makes Brown loom larger than life, and rightly so. His magazine-illustration background is evident in spreads that combine the iconic and the realistic to compress the visual storytelling into one heightened image. Not a story for the younger set, but an important view of one of the most controversial men in American history. (author's note, sources, index) (Informational picture book. 8-12) This amazingly illustrated book is one that I am still thinking about a week after I read it. The illustrations are so incredible, sometimes dark and deep, but so telling. John Hendrix did a wonderful job of telling this very complex story of John Brown. In the Authors Note, Hendrix writes, "John Brown has been a source of controversey for more than 150 years." While reading this story, you felt empathy for John Brown and his cause, while also thinking, "What are you doing?" John Brown was willing to die for his cause, a cause that we can't even begin to imagine in 2009. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to children aged 9-13.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bloom

    I didn't really realize what a polarizing figure John Brown was until I read this book. I had heard of his raid on Harper's Ferry, but (like a lot of other "stuff" in history) I didn't know much about it. The back story really floored me - here was a white man in America in the 1840s and 1850s who wanted blacks to not just be free, but *equal* to whites! Unbelievable! I really enjoyed the illustrations... for the most part. Hendrix's style is very folksy, contributing to the tall-tale larger tha I didn't really realize what a polarizing figure John Brown was until I read this book. I had heard of his raid on Harper's Ferry, but (like a lot of other "stuff" in history) I didn't know much about it. The back story really floored me - here was a white man in America in the 1840s and 1850s who wanted blacks to not just be free, but *equal* to whites! Unbelievable! I really enjoyed the illustrations... for the most part. Hendrix's style is very folksy, contributing to the tall-tale larger than life posturing of Brown on the front cover (which, frankly, is a bit disturbing). Anyway, a cool book that definitely has its faults, but would be good for upper elementary readers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alida

    The more I read about John Brown, the more I admire him. History has not been kind to him which is a shame. If there had been more men like him during the creation of the US, perhaps the history of slavery would have been quite different. The author, Mr. Hendrix, has done justice to the source material and his illustrations are just marvelous. A perfect book to introduce a kid to such a pivotal figure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelley larson

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the story to be quite boring, but I absolutely loved the illustrations. John Brown is the true story of an abolitionist who was tried as a traitor by the United States. The story recounts his fight against slavery, his death by hanging (the picture was a bit disturbing), and his legacy. Genre: historical nonfiction picture book Copyright: 2009

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    This is an interesting, if biased, picture book biography of a controversial historical figure. What really stands out about it are the illustrations, which give readers a good sense of both the time period and of Brown himself.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Well told story and exceptional illustrations. All was silent while I read this one aloud. We had a great discussion afterwards.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Writer and illustrator John Hendrix relates the life of controversial abolitionist John Brown via a picture-book biography for middle graders. He begins in 1840, when John and his family lived in Hudson, Ohio - “a great center of the abolitionist cause.” John made a point of treating blacks as equals and with respect, a radical choice for the time. His father also believed in the equality of all human beings, and both attributed these beliefs to their devotion to Christian ideals. John was inspir Writer and illustrator John Hendrix relates the life of controversial abolitionist John Brown via a picture-book biography for middle graders. He begins in 1840, when John and his family lived in Hudson, Ohio - “a great center of the abolitionist cause.” John made a point of treating blacks as equals and with respect, a radical choice for the time. His father also believed in the equality of all human beings, and both attributed these beliefs to their devotion to Christian ideals. John was inspired by Ecclesiastes 4:1: “Behold the tears of such as were oppressed and they had no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.” Could he make a difference? He began to come up with a plan: “I will raise a storm in this country that will not be stayed so long as there is a slave on its soil.” (Hendrix incorporates many direct quotes into the text, rendered artistically in period-fashion fonts accenting the main narration.) In 1854 the U.S. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which stipulated that each state could vote on whether to enter the Union as a slave state or a free state. Supporters of each position flocked to the new states to influence the vote. John and his sons made up some of them, helping create “Bleeding Kansas” when they murdered some pro-slavery settlers. This act got John branded as a crazed madman to some, and a folk hero to others, and made John a wanted man. Hendrix writes: “John did not believe bloodshed was the answer, but he knew the key to his plan was to capture the country’s attention with a big bang.” To that end, he planned to raid the large federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia and capture arms to equip his growing army of abolitionists. Brown wanted an authoritative black leader to stand by his side, but Harry Tubman was ill, and Frederick Douglass was wary of Brown’s plan. He went ahead with it nevertheless, and staged the raid on October 17, 1859. It didn’t take long for things to go wrong. The first man killed by the raiders was a free black man. Townsmen started to shoot at them, soon joined by well-organized militia from the area. Several raiders were killed and the rest were cornered in a small brick engine house next to the armory. That night, a force of U.S. Marines arrived, led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stewart, who, though now defending the United States, only a few years later would become leaders of the Confederate Army. By the next day, the raid was over and the raiders were captured. As John told his interrogators after his arrest: "I want you to understand, gentlemen, that I respect the rights of the poorest and weakest of colored people, oppressed by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and powerful.” John was put on trial in Charlestown, Virginia for insurrection, conspiracy, and high treason. He was sentenced to death. On November 2, 1859, in his last speech, given in court, he averred: "This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to 'remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.' I endeavored to act up to that instruction. . . . Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!" On December 2, 1869, John was taken to the gallows, and he was executed. [John Wilkes Booth hated John Brown passionately; he came up to Harper’s Ferry in 1859 to witness the execution and help ensure there would be no attempts to rescue him by supporters.] Hendrix notes: “For the forty-five days between his capture and his death, John wrote many letters that were published in newspapers all around the country. The publicity surrounding his execution strengthened the abolitionist cause and rallied thousands to call for an end to slavery.” If you are familiar with Lincoln’s speeches, you may have noticed the similarities between Brown’s last speech and Lincoln’s second inaugural address, when Lincoln declaimed: "If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." The ingenious mixed media illustrations by Hendrix provide a wealth of colorful and historically-appropriate details. His inspired visual interpretations that reflect John Brown’s strong identification with the Bible will have you shaking your head in awed appreciation. Discussion: Too often, what children learn in school is a black-and-white account stressing that John Brown was “crazy.” But Hendrix argues Brown was misunderstood and mischaracterized. Indeed, many recent historians have revised assessments of Brown because so much of what has been written about him fulfilled a specific political agenda, rather than serving truth. That is, it was considered dangerous to valorize insurrection against the government, even for a cause that many found to be just. In his Author’s Note, Hendrix writes: “As I continued to study the life of John Brown, I began to admire him because he would not make a truce with injustice. . . . though the United States hanged him as a traitor, I feel we must not dismiss him as a madman. Terrorists crave destruction and turmoil, and the seed of John’s rebellion was compassion.” Evaluation: This book provides so much for children, parents, and teachers to discuss. Not only does Hendrix give a perspective of a historical figure different from that offered in many textbooks. He also teaches that there is often an agenda to culturally mediated memories that can misrepresent the past, and it is important to consider what it might be. Readers will have much to ponder as they become aware of how and why facts can be twisted to suit the moment, not only in the past, but even in the present time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    John Brown led an attack on Harper’s Ferry in an attempt to obtain weaponry for his army, an army he hoped to use to defeat slavery. The attack did not go off as planned and Brown was hung for his efforts. I’ve always seen Brown as a terrorist, but he is not presented this way in the book; he comes across as a man who deplored slavery, loved God, and desperately wanted to stop slavery in America. The pictures are fun and bright and add a lot to the book. The text is a bit long winded for younger John Brown led an attack on Harper’s Ferry in an attempt to obtain weaponry for his army, an army he hoped to use to defeat slavery. The attack did not go off as planned and Brown was hung for his efforts. I’ve always seen Brown as a terrorist, but he is not presented this way in the book; he comes across as a man who deplored slavery, loved God, and desperately wanted to stop slavery in America. The pictures are fun and bright and add a lot to the book. The text is a bit long winded for younger readers, but it would be perfect for an older group of readers, such as junior high or high school students. An author’s note explains why Hendrix came to write the book and shows where Hendrix obtained his information. The book also includes a list of sources. A bite of the book: “Like a great fuming tornado, John swept across the plains to fight for Kansas. He fought many battles on those windy plains, but it was a dark night along Pottawatomie Creek that made him notorious. John and his sons stormed the houses of five pro-slavery settlers who had been threatening his family and other abolitionists, took the men to the creek, and killed them with broadswords. John’s ruthless tactics spread fear into the hearts of the Border Ruffians and others, but also branded John a crazed madman….” Children’s comments: The children, eight first grade students, who previewed this book didn’t really know what to make of it. The story was unfamiliar to them and they really didn’t even know enough about the Civil War or slavery yet to be able to really understand what was going on. The ratings with this group were a mix of 3’s and 1’s, but I imagine that upper elementary students would enjoy it a lot more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    John Brown may have been a heroic champion for freedom, or he may have been a homicidal lunatic. Hendrix takes the former stance, portraying Brown as a virtuous leader who had to make tough decisions. He introduces Brown as a polite, genteel fellow who goes out of his way to show respect to his black neighbors. In fact, Brown--a white man--is even more passionate about racial equality than many former slaves at the time, including the legendary Frederick Douglass. Inspired by scripture, Brown de John Brown may have been a heroic champion for freedom, or he may have been a homicidal lunatic. Hendrix takes the former stance, portraying Brown as a virtuous leader who had to make tough decisions. He introduces Brown as a polite, genteel fellow who goes out of his way to show respect to his black neighbors. In fact, Brown--a white man--is even more passionate about racial equality than many former slaves at the time, including the legendary Frederick Douglass. Inspired by scripture, Brown designs a plan to take the south by storm, freeing slaves along the way to join his renegade army. In the end, Brown's plan goes horribly wrong and the first man killed in his raid is a free black man. Brown is put to death, but never backs down from his cause. Hendrix's illustrations, pen and ink with acrylic washes, add character to the story. The drawings create a tall-tale ambiance, helping cast Brown as a larger-than-life figure. Hendrix emphasizes biblical passages and memorable quotes from Brown by incorporating them into the pictures. The drawback of this work as an informational book is the contradiction created by Hendrix's continual assertions that Brown "did not believe bloodshed was the answer." This is troubling because the book then relates several incidents which clearly show that violence was indeed Brown's method of choice for bringing about change in the country. This can be a good introduction to a lesser-known historical figure, as long as young readers understand that it may contain some biased interpretations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erik D

    Nonfiction Children’s Biography Hendrix, John John Brown: His Fight for Freedom (2009) . Published on the 150th anniversary of his daring raid on Harper’s Ferry, this colorful biography highlights the battle one man fought to end slavery. Not only do the details of his life capture the reader’s attention, but some of the minutia included on the raid, such as the fact that the Marine lieutenant leading the charge into Harpers Ferry with Colonel Robert E. Lee hastily grabbed a ceremonial sword bef Nonfiction Children’s Biography Hendrix, John John Brown: His Fight for Freedom (2009) . Published on the 150th anniversary of his daring raid on Harper’s Ferry, this colorful biography highlights the battle one man fought to end slavery. Not only do the details of his life capture the reader’s attention, but some of the minutia included on the raid, such as the fact that the Marine lieutenant leading the charge into Harpers Ferry with Colonel Robert E. Lee hastily grabbed a ceremonial sword before heading to Harper’s Ferry! This act was one small detail that ultimately prevented John Brown’s death at the hand of the assaulting military forces because when the lieutenant thrust his sword into Brown’s belly, it bent and folded like a flimsy piece of foil. This book would make a great tie-in for US History when covering the events leading to the American Civil War or on the topic of the abolitionist movement for primary grades. The amazing stylized illustrations reminiscent of a colorized version of the political cartoons of that era are lovingly colored and detailed. They accentuate the story with their portrayal of the man, the cause, and the proceedings of the day. This book, detailing the life of the famous abolitionist, would make a great addition to any primary school library. Target audience: ages 8-12.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: This is a complex portrayal of a difficult character in history. It doesn't hold back. It includes the Kansas massacre where five slave supporters were killed in cold blood. The fact that the first death by Brown's forces at Harper's Ferry was of a free black man. It also includes positives about Brown like his Christian motivation and his understanding that violence on behalf of freeing the slaves was in his mind justified because of the greater injustice of slavery. Brown is no l Short Review: This is a complex portrayal of a difficult character in history. It doesn't hold back. It includes the Kansas massacre where five slave supporters were killed in cold blood. The fact that the first death by Brown's forces at Harper's Ferry was of a free black man. It also includes positives about Brown like his Christian motivation and his understanding that violence on behalf of freeing the slaves was in his mind justified because of the greater injustice of slavery. Brown is no less a complicated figure after I read this. I have only read about Brown in context of biographies of Fredrick Dougass and Harriet Tubman, and not a longer look at him. So I am sure I am missing some context. But I was impressed that a children's book attempted to deal with Brown and kept him a complex character and did not gloss over the negatives. My full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/john-brown/

  19. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Fevery

    I would highly suggest introducing your kids to this book. I think it is very important to introduce children to racism because of the fact that it occurs in our every day lives and they should be knowledgable about it. This book is very well written and is the story of slave abolitionist John Brown. John Hendrix portrayed John Brown as incredibly heroic which I have my doubts on for the fact that this was back in the 1800’s, so no one actually knew how John Brown really went about abolishing sl I would highly suggest introducing your kids to this book. I think it is very important to introduce children to racism because of the fact that it occurs in our every day lives and they should be knowledgable about it. This book is very well written and is the story of slave abolitionist John Brown. John Hendrix portrayed John Brown as incredibly heroic which I have my doubts on for the fact that this was back in the 1800’s, so no one actually knew how John Brown really went about abolishing slavery and if it was done in a appropriate manner. We only have an idea to go off of and knew he was against slavery. The vocabulary in this book suggests that it is for older children. I think this book should more be read by fourth or fifth graders to introduce them to the ideas of slavery. The book is nicely illustrated with well depicted pictures.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janet Frost

    I do love the style of this illustrator. This particular book he is the author and illustrator and I like it better than the ones that he collaborated with another author. John Brown is a very interesting figure in American History. Unfortunately, he was destined to serve as a martyr. He is often portrayed as a crazy man of violence. In truth, his crusade does dissolve into mayhem. Was this the only choice? Probably, considering the entire country eventually feel victim to a bloody Civil War in p I do love the style of this illustrator. This particular book he is the author and illustrator and I like it better than the ones that he collaborated with another author. John Brown is a very interesting figure in American History. Unfortunately, he was destined to serve as a martyr. He is often portrayed as a crazy man of violence. In truth, his crusade does dissolve into mayhem. Was this the only choice? Probably, considering the entire country eventually feel victim to a bloody Civil War in pursuit, of this crusade. I am fascinated by a figure that chose to fight another man's battle to the death. Hendrix does a good job of describing this man and his era in a quick and succinct manner. In spite of the "picture book" style, I would still consider this for older middle-grade readers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    Let me just say that I think it's awesome that there's a children's book about the Godfather of political terrorism. John Brown is a hugely important American, and one about whom it is impossible to make the facile generalizations characteristic of children's biography. To write a book for children about such a thorny figure takes huevos. That said, the book is sort of meh. It adopts the children's book convention of calling the subject by first name, which makes for a sort of intimacy that I do Let me just say that I think it's awesome that there's a children's book about the Godfather of political terrorism. John Brown is a hugely important American, and one about whom it is impossible to make the facile generalizations characteristic of children's biography. To write a book for children about such a thorny figure takes huevos. That said, the book is sort of meh. It adopts the children's book convention of calling the subject by first name, which makes for a sort of intimacy that I don't buy. John Brown is fascinating partly because he has this kind of grand, Old Testament inaccessibility. He's not a regular guy - he's not our pal John, just like me and you (at least, I hope you're not like that). "John thought slavery was wrong" doesn't cut it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shelli

    Great book for intermediate grade teachers or parents to read with their students to talk about this time in our nations history when slavery was a fact of everyday life. John Brown being a man who detested slavery and not only wanted to see it end but wished for complete equality between the races. At that time this was practically an unheard way of thinking let alone speaking. He went to extreme measures to get his belief across. I can see educators and parents alike having in-depth conversati Great book for intermediate grade teachers or parents to read with their students to talk about this time in our nations history when slavery was a fact of everyday life. John Brown being a man who detested slavery and not only wanted to see it end but wished for complete equality between the races. At that time this was practically an unheard way of thinking let alone speaking. He went to extreme measures to get his belief across. I can see educators and parents alike having in-depth conversations about what they think of John Browns actions. Do you agree with him? Should he have handled things differently? What kind of emotions do they think they would feel being in John Browns shoes?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Lovejoy

    I had read this book over 3 years ago, but had forgotten that I had read it. I am so glad that I read it again as I learned (or relearned) many new things. Even though this is a children's book, it has a great message for adults to ponder. October 20, 2011: Because I had just read the book Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery this children's books caught my eye when I was at the library yesterday. I learned some new facts. I often learn many new things from books written for childre I had read this book over 3 years ago, but had forgotten that I had read it. I am so glad that I read it again as I learned (or relearned) many new things. Even though this is a children's book, it has a great message for adults to ponder. October 20, 2011: Because I had just read the book Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery this children's books caught my eye when I was at the library yesterday. I learned some new facts. I often learn many new things from books written for children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The graphics in this book add so much to the story that I really can't separate them. Great job! The words are powerful and helpful to help the hopeful history buff get a taste of some of the painful parts of America's history. This is not for the faint of heart and it is also not a morbid book by any means. It does try to relate with as much accuracy as a 9 to 12 year old can muster a true account of a very explosive event. The fonts also add poignancy to the tale. The graphics in this book add so much to the story that I really can't separate them. Great job! The words are powerful and helpful to help the hopeful history buff get a taste of some of the painful parts of America's history. This is not for the faint of heart and it is also not a morbid book by any means. It does try to relate with as much accuracy as a 9 to 12 year old can muster a true account of a very explosive event. The fonts also add poignancy to the tale.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ofilia

    While this picture book bio provides lots of valuable information on a figure not usually explored in kid lit, he is rather controversial and I'm not certain the text is entirely without bias. Brown's convictions are strong and admirable, however his actions in murdering those who did not agree with him is deplorable. The cartoonish illustrations only add the the hectic feeling of the text and at times Brown looks like a demonic Abe Lincoln. While this picture book bio provides lots of valuable information on a figure not usually explored in kid lit, he is rather controversial and I'm not certain the text is entirely without bias. Brown's convictions are strong and admirable, however his actions in murdering those who did not agree with him is deplorable. The cartoonish illustrations only add the the hectic feeling of the text and at times Brown looks like a demonic Abe Lincoln.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jesika La Bryer

    Copyright 2009 This book is very informational. T he information is deep and accurate. The pictures are almost comic like, appearing "larger than life". It gives mention to other very important people in the time period of John Brown. There are tons of sources as well. I was a little concerned about one of the illustrations. It depicts a dead person, it doesn't show their face, but this could be disturbing to some children. Copyright 2009 This book is very informational. T he information is deep and accurate. The pictures are almost comic like, appearing "larger than life". It gives mention to other very important people in the time period of John Brown. There are tons of sources as well. I was a little concerned about one of the illustrations. It depicts a dead person, it doesn't show their face, but this could be disturbing to some children.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paige Y.

    For the most part, I thought this was an excellent short account of John Brown's adult life. I loved the illustrations and the way the text flowed with them. The only thing I didn't like was that I felt at times the author couldn't decide who his audience was. There was some complex vocabulary which would make it more appropriate for middle school, but yet at places I felt things were explained in a manner that would be more appropriate for elementary school. For the most part, I thought this was an excellent short account of John Brown's adult life. I loved the illustrations and the way the text flowed with them. The only thing I didn't like was that I felt at times the author couldn't decide who his audience was. There was some complex vocabulary which would make it more appropriate for middle school, but yet at places I felt things were explained in a manner that would be more appropriate for elementary school.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucius

    After reading Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States, I was facinated by John Brown. It's nice to see him introduced to children as someone who had an impact on American history. There is certainly some biased language in this book and the level of the vocabulary is about 5th grade. This is not a picture book for younger children. The content is too advanced for kids below 5th grade. After reading Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States, I was facinated by John Brown. It's nice to see him introduced to children as someone who had an impact on American history. There is certainly some biased language in this book and the level of the vocabulary is about 5th grade. This is not a picture book for younger children. The content is too advanced for kids below 5th grade.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I am now a huge fan of John Hendrix and his artwork. I am captivated by it, and find myself studying it: the details, the symbolism, the typography. Have read this and Nurse Soldier Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds A Civil War Hero. Can't wait to read more of his work. Although picture books, both of these titles would be great in upper elementary, middle school and high school classrooms. I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org I am now a huge fan of John Hendrix and his artwork. I am captivated by it, and find myself studying it: the details, the symbolism, the typography. Have read this and Nurse Soldier Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds A Civil War Hero. Can't wait to read more of his work. Although picture books, both of these titles would be great in upper elementary, middle school and high school classrooms. I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    I would read this book aloud on 1 condition. That I would have response activities that would engage and help students apply themselves to the story. John Brown is a hero of the U.R. I would think this book would apply to boys, as the pictures are more masculine and hard. The back of the book includes a history section on John Brown. I think this book would be interesting as it makes his story come to life.

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