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Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky

Overview

Illus. in full color. Cassie, who flew above New York in Tar Beach, soars into the sky once more. This time, she and her brother Be Be meet a train full of people, and Be Be joins them. But the train departs before Cassie can climb aboard. With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the real Underground Railroad and is finally reunited with her brother at the story's end.

With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the ...

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Overview

Illus. in full color. Cassie, who flew above New York in Tar Beach, soars into the sky once more. This time, she and her brother Be Be meet a train full of people, and Be Be joins them. But the train departs before Cassie can climb aboard. With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the real Underground Railroad and is finally reunited with her brother at the story's end.

With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her younger brother.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A young African-American girl and her brother meet the spirit of Harriet Tubman at her train to freedom in the sky. There, Tubman tells them of the horrors of slavery, and sends Cassie to follow the same terrifying and arduous path her ancestors took to gain freedom. Ringgold weaves facts into her dreamlike story and succeeds in vivdly portraying to young readers slavery's hardships. A biographic sketch of Tubman, suggestions for further reading, and a map of the Underground Railroad are included.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Characters from Tar Beach once again fly-this time in a fantastical sky train run by Harriet Tubman that traces a route on the Underground Railroad. Ages 4-9. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2 Up-- Using the symbolic motif of flying as she did in Tar Beach (Crown, 1991), Ringgold reintroduces Cassie and Be Be Lightfoot, who soar above oceans that look like cups of tea and meet a ``ramshackled train in the sky'' whose conductor is Harriet Tubman. Aunt Harriet, as she is called, explains that the railroad in the sky retraces her route to freedom every 100 years. Meanwhile, Be Be jumps on board. Cassie, who misses the train, must follow, living the slave existence, always one step behind, hoping to rejoin her brother in Canada. What follows is a compelling journey in which the author masterfully integrates fantasy and historical fact in such a way that readers join Cassie in experiencing the fear and the mystery of such a trip. The spare but eloquent text conveys much information, and the artist's flat, primitive illustrations in acrylic on canvas paper lend power and symbolism to one of the most dramatic chapters in American history. Everywhere, Cassie finds clues leading her to Be Be. Everywhere, she receives whispered directions from Aunt Harriet that lead her forward. Everywhere, the threat of capture lurks in the background in the form of the sinister chalkwhite faces of bounty hunters. Although adults may have difficulty with literal interpretation, children with only basic background will recognize that the story is both fact and fantasy--history and allegory. With gripping immediacy, Ringgold puts readers in the story on the side of the victims, insuring, through powerful words and images, ``that we will never forget the cost of freedom.'' Groundbreaking! --Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Carolyn Phelan
Cassie, who flew above New York in "Tar Beach" , now soars among the stars with her little brother Be Be. They come across a mysterious freedom train in the sky and meet Harriet Tubman. While Be Be hops aboard the train right away, Cassie holds back and has to trail it on foot, following the path of her slave ancestors, who took the Underground Railroad north to freedom. Aided by Tubman's whispering voice, Cassie escapes from a plantation, hides in woods and swamps, and learns to recognize safe houses where people will help her. Finally, she flies over Niagara Falls to Canada and freedom, celebrates with Aunt Harriet and Be Be. If the best way to understand others is to walk a mile in their shoes, Cassie learns her people's history well; so will readers of this impressive picture book. Ringgold's dynamic paintings combine historical fact with strongly realized emotions. One powerful double-page spread, based on a recurring dream of Tubman's, shows Aunt Harriet and Be Be flying toward each other within a circle of women dressed in white. Two pages of historical notes on Tubman and the Underground Railroad, including a map and bibliography, round out the volume. While primitive art is not new to picture books, few artists have used it with the narrative and emotional resonance that Ringgold creates in this impressive book.
From the Publisher
"Cassie learns her people's history well; so will readers of this impressive picture book. Ringgold's dynamic paintings combine historical fact with strongly realized emotions."—(starred) Booklist. "Groundbreaking!"—(starred) School Library Journal.  
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517587683
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/24/1992
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 12.33 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Faith Ringgold was born in Harlem, but now divides her time between New Jersey and La Jolla, California.  She is a professor of fine art at the University of California at San Diego, where she teaches for half of the year.

An artist of international renown, Faith is best known for her story quilts — works that combine painting, quilted fabric, and storytelling.

Faiths first book for children, Tar Beach, was a Caldecott Honor Book, a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, a Reading Rainbow featured selection, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and the recipient of numerous other honors, including a Parents Choice Gold Award.

Faith is married to Burdette Ringgold and has two daughters, Michele and Barbara, and three granddaughters, Faith, Teddy and Martha.  

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