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This is a lovely story expressed in a unique way about a slave-mother’s love for her child (Frederick Douglas) who has been separated from her and kept at a plantation 12 miles away. This is her 12-mile journey to see him and shows how she managed to persevere…one mile at a time. Wonderful and moving.
–MaryAnn Milton Butterfield
Based on the childhood of former slave, author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, this new picture book by debut author Glenda Armand introduces Douglass as a young boy in Maryland, where his mother visits him one night every week, despite the arduous twelve mile walk from the plantation where she works in the fields. She explains to him that every mile represents something different, and she makes the journey go by concentrating on these aspects of her life during each mile of the journey. For example, one mile is for forgetting, another for remembering, another for giving thanks, another for love. Armand is a teacher and school librarian who was inspired to write this story by a comment in Douglass’ autobiography in which he remarks that his mother told him he was not “only a child but somebody’s child.” More than a story about the brutality of slavery, this is instead of a story of a mother’s deep love for her child, a universal theme that transcends Frederick Douglass’ own story. In fact, Douglass was separated from his mother as an infant, and she died when he was a small child.
The book is illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings by Colin Bootman which capture the candlelit slave quarters with glowing light, as well as the quiet peace of the woods through which Douglass’ mother walks on her trips.
This is not a picture book biography designed to be suitable for reports, although it could be used in conjunction with other books on Frederick Douglass for classrooms or homeschoolers. It is also well suited to be read on its own and could spark a child’s interest in other aspects of African-American history. The book includes a brief afterword which gives additional details of Douglass’ life after he escaped from slavery and his many accomplishments, including the fact that he gave his mother credit for much of his success.
– M. Tanenbaum
This was a beautiful book. It is the story of young Frederick Douglas. His mother lived twelve miles away and walked to visit him. He asked her about each mile. She tells him the first mile is for forgetting, the second is for remembering, the third is for listening. The fourth mile is for looking up, the fifth is for wondering, the sixth is for praying, the seventh is for singing, the eighth is for smiling, the ninth is for giving thanks. The tenth mile is for hoping, the eleventh is for dreaming and the twelfth is for love.
If you want to know what exactly they are dreaming and remembering and forgetting then read the book. It is no wonder Frederick Douglas grew up to be the man he was. With a mother with such high hopes and dreams for her son he could do nothing less.
– Sandra K. Stiles
The illustrations are moving, showing the love of both mother and son for the other and the value they placed on their time together. Love Twelve Miles Long is thoughtfully written. This title would be an important addition to any library collection and ideal for Black History Month.
Frederick Douglass, one of American history’s great orators and writers, was born a slave. When he was sent to live on a plantation twelve miles away, his mother made this journey on foot under the cover of night to visit her son. This lovely picture book presents an imagined conversation between Frederick and his mother, who tells him about her journey to visit him. The paintings are nothing remarkable, but nicely illustrate the story. A short biography of Douglass is included in the Afterward.
– Liz W.
Great story about Fredrick Douglas and his mother, both slaves on different plantations. His mother walked twelve miles to see her son. Each mile had a special meaning.
The beautiful pictures help convey the story.
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