Mumbet's Declaration of Independence

  • Interest Level: Grade 1 - Grade 4   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

“All men are born free and equal.”

Everybody knows about the Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But the founders weren’t the only ones who believed that everyone had a right to freedom. Mumbet, a Massachusetts slave, believed it too. She longed to be free, but how? Would anyone help her in her fight for freedom? Could she win against her owner, the richest man in town?

Mumbet was determined to try.

Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence tells her story for the first time in a picture book biography, and her brave actions set a milestone on the road toward ending slavery in the United States.

Format Your Price
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Fiction, Picture Books
Category Diversity, Social Emotional Learning, Social Studies
Copyright 2014
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-02-01
Reading Counts! Level 3.2
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV011010, JUV016120, JUV000000
Dewey 306.3'62092
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.75 x 9.75
Lexile 640
ATOS Reading Level 3.4
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 164347
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews


  • CBC Children's Choices, Winner, 2015
  • ACL Distinguished Book, Winner, 2014
  • Eureka! Children’s Book Gold Award, Winner, 2014
  • Teaching for Change's Best Books, Winner, 2014


Library Media Connection

“This book opens many avenues for discussion, including history, civil rights, the power and interpretation of the law, and imagery and artistry as conveyed by the rich drawings and Mumbet’s observations of freedom.” —Library Media Connection


“Delinois’ minimalist but highly evocative acrylic illustrations add depth to the sensitive, inspiring text. A great addition to picture-book collections of American history.” —Booklist

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“The case is fascinating, emphasizing the destructive irony at the heart of the birth of America and making Mumbet an active and savvy architect of her own release, and this is likely to spur much discussion.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The Horn Book Magazine

“Woelfle keeps the spotlight on Mumbet and brings her to life as a strong, smart person. Using a vibrant acrylic palette, Delinois highlights the brilliant greens and blues of the Berkshires setting and allows the light to play on Mumbet’s face to show both her humor and strength. . . . Though many have not heard the story of Mumbet before, no one who reads it now will ever forget it.” —The Horn Book Magazine

The New York Times Book Review

“Alix Delinois’s illustrations beautifully balance the intensity of this history lesson. . . . Woelfle’s narrative and her appended notes and references offer opportunities for discussing nuances in the history of American slavery.” —The New York Times Book Review

School Library Journal

“Vividly colored illustrations reflect the generally hopeful tone of the story, while bold compositions and thickly layered paint suggest folk art. Freeman’s strength of character is reflected in her determined facial expressions and strong stance.” —School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Delinois’s thick layers of paint and vibrant palette infuse even the story’s upsetting moments with hopefulness, and Mumbet herself glows with determination and integrity.” —starred, Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant….A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.” —Kirkus Reviews

Author: Gretchen Woelfle

Gretchen Woelfle began writing for children by turning family history into short stories and has gone on to publish award-winning picture books, middle grade nonfiction, biographies, and historical fiction including The Wind at Work, Katje the Windmill Cat, and All the World's A Stage: A Novel in Five Acts. She is now focusing on biographies of unsung women in American history: Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer; Write on, Mercy! The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren; and Mumbet's Declaration of Independence. Visit Gretchen online at

Illustrator: Alix Delinois