A noteworthy review of Journey to Freedom: The African American Library from MultiCultural Review on June 1, 2003
What is immediately striking about the entries in this 42-volume series for middle school students is a serious and elegant design unusual for this level. Each volume has a large photo bordered in black on the cover (the books are an expansive 9 1/4 × 10 1/2 inches), and within the books the color and black-and-white photos and drawings are designed to appear like actual photos affixed to the page. Captions and short sidebars are deep red boxes with gold type and borders. The majority of the volumes in the entire series, as of those listed above, are biographies of individual figures in African-American history. These are easy-to-follow and fairly complete, and they include a time line, a list of books and web sites, and a glossary that defines the terms that are occasionally bolded in the text. What is most distinctive again from other biographies of this type is the visual element, with such illustrations included as a collage made by Louis Armstrong of news clippings about Jackie Robinson, and a classic 1950s photo from Toni Morrison’s high school yearbook. The volumes on larger topics such as slavery and the civil rights movement naturally treat their subjects less comprehensively than the biographies do. (Other titles besides those above include ones on African-Americans in the Revolutionary War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Kwanzaa.) The subject volumes do a good job, however, of giving a general background and including the most important events, figures, and concepts. Overall, the Journey to Freedom series has something of a coffee-table-book, Time-Life feel to it. This may seem almost intimidating to its intended audience at first, but the clear, large text and striking visual elements should make these books a valuable resource for students investigating African-American history, and in particular some of its most interesting figures.
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