Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Great book about a woman I had never heard of before! I love finding books like this that tell the stories of those that are often overlooked or "forgotten" by history.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the ARC in exchange for this review.

There are too many stories that seemingly go untold. This book tells the story of Ona Judge and her unwavering drive to be a free woman regardless of the cost. This is a great story to use in a classroom setting! There needs to be more stories like this for us all to read but especially children of color. What a strong example of empowerment!
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This is a story that needs to be told, especially as it's also about an American president. I liked the story, but I wish the illustrations were a bit better.
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This is a rare perspective of a slave owned by a president. I think this should be included in all studies of George Washington. I was enlightened by this story and find it needs to be shared with all.
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This was a good introduction for young readers to the reality that our nation's first president was a slaveholder, and one who was determined to recapture Ona Judge, one of his slaves who had escaped. We must help children understand that humans are complicated and that even those we consider heroes are not 100% good. It is important to recognize that George Washington enslaved people, even as we recognize the amazing things he and the other founding fathers (and mothers) did in creating this country. At the same time, the book really keeps the focus on the rather amazing woman that Ona Judge was, how strong and brave she was to escape and to maintain that she was now a free woman and would not go back to Virginia, even if it meant never seeing her family again. I cannot imagine how agonizing that must have been for her. This is a wonderful book to help children understand what it meant to be enslaved and what one had to go through to obtain the freedom that was their natural right. Well done.
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The title is a great description of this new fascinating picture book biography. Ona was an enslaved girl who lived with her family at Mount Vernon. She worked for the Washingtons and became a great seamstress like her mother. Martha Washington was so impressed by Ona’s work that she took her with them to live in the presidential mansion when George Washington was elected. Even though Ona lived much better than the slaves at Mount Vernon, seeing free black people in Philadelphia made her long to be a free person also. When the Washingtons’ granddaughter announced her upcoming marriage, Martha planned to give Ona to her as a wedding present. Ona knew that the window of opportunity for her to live as a free person might be closing. She hatched a dangerous plan and outwitted the President of the United States to achieve her dream of being free.

Knowing the truth about slavery and practices of prominent estate owners prior to the Civil War is crucial to our understanding of the foundation of our country and in determining what we stand for. Stories by POC (Indigenous and black people) whose descendants were enslaved are critical to uncovering the truths of these experiences. 

ONA JUDGE OUTWITS THE WASHINGTONS is appropriate for any child who is mature enough to understand and emotionally process enslavement. This book is a great conversation starter and is highly recommended for classroom and family discussion for ages 9+. It releases on 10/1/19. Ask for it at your local bookstore or request it for your public library!

Thank you to Capstone Editions and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.
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While I liked the book, the illustrations were a little lacking. My daughter read the story twice and found Ona's story interesting. I feel the cover though would not lend itself to being chosen by kids.
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The story is interesting because it's an example of a slave defying someone we can't imagine anyone defying, President Washington. The text seems a bit stiff in the reading, but it weaves a good story. Of course, I would love to know more details about Ona and how she was able to evade capture so many times. Most likely, those details will never be known. This will be a good book to introduce my students to the issue of slavery.
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An exceptional story, but the artwork looks very amateur and the text is set in an unattractive manner. The overall product looks like a middle school project. Kids today are expecting a high level of quality and this book just does no measure up.

Thank you to Capstone and NetGalley for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an important story to tell, however, the illustrations and the layout of the book were such a distraction for me.
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Important book to read with kids about one of our founding fathers and the subject of slavery. Interesting illustrations and good story. A must for all kids to read! Would recommend.
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This is an important story to tell, about a woman who was enslaved along with her family and others by George and Martha Washington and managed to escape. Ona Judge was born into slavery and grew up as an enslaved girl on the Washington estate, but managed to escape in adulthood. Despite Washington's repeated attempts to get her back, she managed to live the rest of her life in freedom.

While slavery is a subject that children's books need to address far more and Ona is an American hero whom children should know, there were elements that I felt kept this children's book from being all that it could be. The font is amateur looking (like very early computer fonts) and the artwork is very child-like. The story is also a little long for a read-aloud picture book, and may not keep children's attention. It is still a book that I will read my kids and recommend to others, though, since we really need far more picture books told from perspectives like Ona's and we need to teach children the good and bad of our country's history and its players.

My rating system:
1 = hated it
2 = it was okay
3 = liked it
4 = really liked it
5 = love it, plan to purchase, and/or would buy it again if it was lost

I read a temporary digital ARC of the book for the purpose of review.
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Great retelling of a little known story, this is an ideal text for elementary students.  It discusses slavery clearly, without apologies or euphemisms, in an extremely appropriate manner and tone.  The illustrations are engaging and add to the story.  The emphasis on the importance of individual freedom is well deserved.  I look forward to introducing this book to my elementary students.
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Ona Judge's story is an important one. She was enslaved and lived with George and Martha Washington. Her story of her successful escape should be read by all. This book is geared toward middle grade readers. As a middle school librarian, my teachers ask for books like this that can serve as a jumping off point for units they are teaching. It will certainly start a discussion and lead to deep research! The style of the artwork fit the book. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to review an ARC.
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Thank you to NetGalley for a free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

I have never heard of Ona Judge but am glad I picked up this book. She was brave and intelligent and it is great to see stories about strong women in history who stood up for what is right.  It would be good to use in the classroom when studying early America or Revolution. Students should be old enough to understand slavery and be able to handle the knowledge that founding fathers and presidents had slaves in the early years of our country.
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I love a good story that tells more about our history, and this one is no exception! Ona was able to find freedom from the Washingtons, and her wisdom and courage shine through in this book!
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Editor's note, a revised and edited version of this review is scheduled to appear in print and online in Mountain Times (Boone, NC) Oct. 1, 2019

Publisher Capstone Editions offers a pair of publications this fall targeting a young audience and a difficult subject: slavery. Under Capstone's stewardship, both stories are handled exceedingly well.
Award-winning author Gwendolyn Hooks is not unfamiliar with presenting the idea of civil rights to children, and here she brings the subject alive for middle readers — and, undoubtedly, not more than few adults unfamiliar with Ona's story — through a seldom reported tale of child slavery by our nation's most famous founding family, the Washingtons.
That George and Martha Washington owned slaves is an excellent stepping off point in the unglossed teaching of our nation's history, allowing educators and parents to present a harsh subject matter in the context of the era while making the civil rights struggle relevant to today.
Simone Agoussoye's sturdy illustrations lay out the story well, and even without text would provide a stirring visual retelling of the young slave's life and daring escape.
Capstone's inclusion of a glossary will aid young readers in building vocabulary, while its list of further reading marks several points of addition for both older readers interested in Ona's life, and educators wanting to dig deeper into the subject.
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Excellent book!based on true events. The illustrations really bring the stories to life.  This book can be enjoyed by all grades, and would be a great discussion point for my fifth grade class.
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I have studied history and never heard of Ona Judge, now I want to know everything about her. I found this story fascinating and made me want more. I found her bravery and intelligence amazing. She risked a lot and it would have been easy to give up and not fight for herself, but she did and that is a powerful story. 

As a teacher, I had to take a step back and think is this story that should be in classrooms and I have to say, I think it needs to be. I would love to share this story with my classroom of students. I think that they would find it just as amazing as I did. I think there need to be more stories like this in schools, I think we need to hear more about heroes and rebels (and I use that word as a good thing) in history. We celebrate a lot of people who may not have been the greatest people in their personal lives, we need to hear more about the people that fought back and did what they had to do to survive and make life better for themselves and those around them.
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I was not a fan of the illustrations, but the story was gripping and well told. I love how the author emphasized that Ona had the best life a slave could expect--nice clothes, pocket money, going to plays and concerts. But it was nothing compared to freedom. She risked it all, multiple times, to live life on her own with no master. We hear stories about the brutality of slavery and think of course they would want freedom, but it wasn't just the brutality or hard work. It was being owned as property, a human being owned and traded like livestock. Pretty dresses mean nothing when your body can be bought and sold, when you're 3/5 of a person, when none of the rights afforded "all men" apply to you.
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