Baker uses Turner's own words as the majority of the text in this book which is nearly wordless otherwise. The art in this book is absolutely raw and beautiful and horrifying. This is the first book I've read that is completely about Nat Turner, and although it is marketed to young readers, it is not for the faint of heart: however, it is an important part of American history and a story that is often untold as it is so brutal.
I liked that Baker allows the reader to make their own judgments about the characters in this story. He presents what happened, and he doesn't sugar coat it. This book is not didactic at all and leaves the reader feeling unsettled because as Americans we share some very sad, unfair, and awful history.
I wonder what Nat Turner could have done in his life had he been born into a society that respected black Americans and slavery did not exist. He was brilliant but saw so much brutality towards his family and people. What he and his companions did was horrific, but it was no more horrific than the realities of slavery. The system of slavery and the brutal men who enforced the law of slavery created their own executioners.
I think this is an important book because of it realness. The end of the book contains notes that are important to the story and sources to obtain more information. This book was published in 2008.
Yes, it is somber and sad, but we need to know our history if we want to do better.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.