Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

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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I really enjoy this story of bravery and a willingness to take risks to give yourself the life you deserve. I especially appreciate that this is a story of a slave of George Washington. It is important for children to learn that even people that were revered in their time also chose to have slaves. This story is a way to talk to children about the idea that “it was just what was done then” is not an excuse for behavior that you know is wrong.

Hooks told this story simply but richly. It will be an exellent entry point for conversations.

The art style of this is not my favorite, but there is something about the simplicity of it that fits perfectly with the text.
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Thank to NetGalley and Capstone Publishing for allowing an advanced read of this book.  

The information in this book was sad to read.  
The president of the United States owning slaves is a difficult pill to swallow and a moment in history that we cannot be proud of.  But, sharing this information will help keep us from making the same mistakes.
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Thank you NetGalley and Capstone for the advanced digital copy of "Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons" in exchange for my honest opinion.

Author Gwendolyn Hook's brings us a piece of history that many are not aware of. We often hear about historical accounts of slavery and even of runaways, but what made this stand out was that Ona was in such a difficult location to achieve what she did.
Though the historical aspect of this book was great I was still left wanting more information. I also felt as though it became a bit redundant in areas.  This book would, in my opinion, be suited better in a younger age group category.
Overall, this book will be a wonderful addition to the enhancement of historical knowledge.
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This short nonfiction reading gives students a fair picture of what life was like for enslaved people in the early years of the United States.  It would be a great addition to a unit on the American Revolution or the early United States.  The fact that Ona was owned by George Washington will start many enlightening conversations!  I also like that this story takes place in the late 1700s, more than 60 years before the Civil War.  I think it will add perspective for my students.  #OnaJudgeOutwitsTheWashingtons #NetGalley
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The story of Ona Judge is a reminder of how strong enslaved people were and of the determination many had to be free from the hardships of slavery.  Her story also highlights the often glossed over fact that many of America's founding fathers and presidents enslaved human beings. 

The story begins as Ona is a small child working outdoors, longing to be near her mother who worked indoors.  From there, her story takes twists and turns that creates Ona's willingness to risk everything to free herself from the bondage of the Washingtons.  Through Ona's journey, readers get a peek into the constant fear enslaved people endured at the thought of being caught, punished, and dragged back into slavery. Gwendolyn Hooks gets real about the institution of slavery touching on family separations and of the devaluing of enslaved persons as dictated by the Constitution. These are important to share so that slavery is understood as the atrocity it was.

One caveat is the illustrations. The colors chosen for the illustrations are captivating and brings life to the pages.  However, I'm not sure if there is a purpose behind the style of illustrations chosen to accompany the story.  The illustrations were a bit distracting as many of the characters looked different and disproportionately drawn throughout the book.  A note of explanation about the illustration style chosen would have been helpful.  Despite that one caveat, Ona's story is an important one and I'm happy it's being told.
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Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom, written by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Simone Agoussoye, tells the story of a young enslaved woman who succeeded in escaping slavery, even though she was fleeing from the first president of the United States of America, George Washington.

Hooks is unflinching in her depiction of slavery, and weaves Ona’s personal story into the larger national story of enslaved blacks in America. Hooks explains that enslaved blacks had to work for no pay in conditions that provided no autonomy or dignity. She also notes that many children were sold away from siblings and parents.

Hooks explores the distinctions between working in the house and in the field through young Ona who hoped to work in the house, like her seamstress mother. At ten-years-old Ona does move into the house, and she begins working with her mother as a seamstress. Ironically, the sewing skills Ona learned from her mother, skills that made her life as an enslaved woman a little easier, also made her particularly valuable to the Washingtons.

Hooks contrasts the radical difference between the newly experienced freedom of white Americans beginning their democratic experiment, and the conditions of enslaved blacks, who were considered property, not citizens.

When George Washington was elected president and set out for then capital, New York City, he brought seven enslaved blacks, including Ona and her brother, Austin. The more centrally located Philadelphia was soon chosen as the new capital of the US. In Philadelphia, Ona met free blacks, and the free black women she saw “proved freedom was possible.”

While Ona was beginning to imagine freedom, George Washington’s wife, Martha, received news that her granddaughter would marry. Martha planned to give Ona as a wedding gift. Horrified, Ona began to plan her escape. With the help of Philadelphia’s free black community, she made it to New Hampshire.

Although Ona continued to work hard, she worked for a wage and was free to make her own decisions. However, the Washington’s continued to look for Ona.

Ona soon met a free black man, Jack Staines, who worked on a ship and traveled often. Jack and Ona fell in love, were married, and had a child.

Even as years passed, Ona remained legally enslaved and was considered property of the Washingtons who continued to attempt to trick her into going back to Philadelphia.

Gwendolyn Hooks narrates Ona Judge’s story matter-of-factly, while purposefully using language to foreground the full humanity of enslaved blacks. The story is an accessible corrective to whitewashed versions of US history. Simone Agoussoye’s illustrations are warm and evocative. Her thoughtful use of color adds emotional depth to the picture book.

This beautiful book is a must-have for personal and school libraries. It can be used during lessons on history, biography, or civics. You will need to wait for this one, according to NetGalley, where I accessed an E-ARC, it will be published August 2019, just in time to make its way into classrooms this coming fall.
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Fun book indeed and very empowering. I liked how the author used ‘Enslaved instead of slave. Choice of words, and slight explanation can be meaningful. This can make or break a book. This was also cultural important. I’m sure there were a lot of run sways, some recaptured some not. This is a nice easy read for very young people to learn a easy history.
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