So Tall Within – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Spread the love

Title: So Tall Within – Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk To Freedom

Written by: Gary D. Schmidt

Illustrated by: Daniel Minter

Published by: Roaring Brook Press, 2018

Ages: 8-18

Themes: slavery, freedom, civil rights, Sojourner Truth, mighty women, emancipation, leadership

Genre: biography






was a
to be

Isabella lived in a cellar where the windows never let the sun in and the floorboards never kept the water out.


Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans.  (publisher)

Why I like this Book:

This legendary story is told with lyricism and power, and brought to life by stunning fine art. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.  Modern day parallels in the text and artwork bring the past powerfully into the present for our students. Schmidt brings this larger-than-life woman alive on the page with such beautiful language and imagery that will echo in your mind long after you have closed the book. And the repetition of the title and this metaphor rings powerfully across the pages. In a number of illustrations, Minter depicts Isabella and unnamed slaves semi-translucent against the backdrop of nature, including the trees that are the story’s symbol of growing hope. The slaves represent the countless people for whom the story is true. 

So many slavery stories focus on the south so it is fascinating for me to read about this woman’s history in New York and other northern states in which slavery was never le

The illustrator (and art editor perhaps) was so inspired to highlight the thematic pages by inserting a vertical panel alongside a larger-print phrase of text on the left. The textual and illustrative imagery is most certainly Caldecott  worthy in this stunning and moving biography.


The back matter includes a biographical note, a bibliography, and a note from the artist. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this in a middle school or high school lesson as well as in an elementary classroom. Don’t miss the artist’s note at the end too.

Metaphors abound: “In Slavery Time when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted…” combined with symbolic illustrations, they create a poetic narrative. If followed, just those pages of metaphors could inspire rich conversations and could be used as mentor texts for students to write their own.

This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

This entry was posted in Biography, Black history Month, Children's literature, Diverse Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to So Tall Within – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    I love that cover illustration. It gives her the stature she deserves. Nice review, Joanna! I’ve read MY NAME IS TRUTH by Ann Turner and SOJOURNER TRUTH’S STEP-STOMP STRIDE by Andrea Davis Pinkney. This one looks like a great addition to those older titles.

  2. Wendy says:

    Inspiring! Love the art, too.

  3. Love that cover! Hope I can find a ST history video (humorous for adults) to send you!

  4. This is the best cover I have ever seen for a book about Sojourner Truth!! It shows how tall and wise she was! One of my favorite women in history. Inspiring review! Happy MCBD and PPBF day!

  5. I love your comment of bringing her to life for this generation. I’ve got the book on hold and can’t wait to read it. The perfect book for #MCBD & #PPBF! Thanks

  6. I can’t wait to read this book. I love the title, and the cover illustration has so much power.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.