This inspiring book tells the story of how an eighteenth century slave used the legal system to gain freedom for herself and many others. The narrative uses the word “owned” in many different contexts to explore the ideas of freedom and slavery: we read about people owning property, owning slaves, owning a sharp tongue. In the story, Mumbet realizes that she herself owns her thoughts, thoughts that lead her to  a brave act which no one else has yet attempted.  The narrative voice is direct, impassioned, and triumphant–just like the story!

The “Author’s Note” in the back is fascinating to read. It tells where the information the book is based on came from, since Mumbet didn’t leave any writing–couldn’t write! It talks about things we don’t know about Mumbet, about the law that prompted her to act, and about her legacy today.

The paintings illustrating the book are beautiful. A beautiful book to read anytime of year, not just in February!

Mumbet’s Declaration of Indpendence by Gretchen Woelfle, illustrated by Alix Delinois. Carolrhoda: 2014.