Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad


In the dark of the night a Barefoot, an escaped slave, flees for his life. With his pursuers close behind and the moon shrouded in clouds, Barefoot must rely on the wisdom of the wild animals of the forest and swamp to guide him to the safety of the underground railroad.
Innovative perspective and use of ...
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In the dark of the night a Barefoot, an escaped slave, flees for his life. With his pursuers close behind and the moon shrouded in clouds, Barefoot must rely on the wisdom of the wild animals of the forest and swamp to guide him to the safety of the underground railroad.
Innovative perspective and use of light and a spare text result in an unforgettable portrayal of one slave's journey to freedom.

"Another outstanding collaboration from the duo responsible for Some Smug Slug."—starred review/School Library Journal

Author Biography:

Pamela Duncan Edwards has wowed audiences with a wealth of winning tales. Her children's books include Roar, Livingstone Mouse, Some Smug Slug, Barefoot, and Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke. She lives in Virginia.

In the forest, a group of animals help a runaway slave escape his pursuers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"A taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art" adopt woodland animals' perspectives to tell of a runaway slave's flight, said PW. Ages 5-9. (Jan.)
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
With a taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Livingstone Mouse transport youngsters onto the overgrown path that an escaping slave stealthily follows one evening. The sound of the young man's racing heart is almost audible as Edwards describes his desperate predicament: "He was fearful of what lay before him. He was terrified of what lay behind." But the man has allies in the underbrush, creatures that perceive him as "the Barefoot" (in contrast to "the Heavy Boots" who come in angry pursuit). A frog signals the presence of water, which quenches the Barefoot's thirst; a scurrying squirrel turns his eye to a blanket of leaves under which he naps; a deer diverts a crew of Heavy Boots away from this hiding place; and fireflies light the way to the safe house ahead. The vigilant eyes of these deftly rendered creatures peer out from Cole's haunting paintings, cleverly skewed to invoke the animals' ground-hugging perspective on the Barefoot's flight. An author's note at the end briefly explains the workings of the Underground Railroad in helping real-life "Barefeet" find freedom.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Another outstanding collaboration by the duo responsible for Some Smug Slug (Harper, 1996). Here the tone is serious. The Barefoot is an escaping slave whose flight is aided by the wild animals of forest and swamp. The frog's croak guides him to water, while a nesting squirrel leads him to cover himself with leaves. When the Heavy Bootsslave catchersdraw near, mosquitoes swarm heavily around them and a deer leads them away into the forest. Fireflies light the Barefoot's way to a house on the Underground Railroad and safety while the animals are still alert for another Barefoot. Edwards's spare text builds suspense while Cole's paintings gradually reveal more of the slave and his pursuers. At first, only feet are seen. Though more and more of his body is depicted, it is only in the penultimate double-page spread that readers see the young man's face. Cole's nocturnal illustrations are suitably dark yet they are not difficult to see, and they use light effectively to focus viewers' eyes on specific parts of the picture. Readers will feel as if they are in the swamp with the runaway, their eyes gradually becoming aware of nuances of the scene as they adjust to the darkness. The generous-sized, handsome white typeface is easy to read against the dark background. Teachers will want to use this title with such books as F. N. Monjo's The Drinking Gourd (Harper, 1970) when teaching about slavery and the Underground Railroad, while in public libraries Barefoot will be perfect for programs on African-American history.Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The story of one slave's escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad, as seen from the perspective of the watchful creatures of the night who speed him on his way.

The "Barefoot" refers to the slave who has taken flight through dark woods, "fearful of what lay before him [and] terrified of what lay behind." Heron, squirrel, mouse, deer, and frog see and hear the slave, and close behind, the Heavy Boots who pursue him. The creaking frog leads the Barefoot to fresh water, a hungry field mouse shows him which berries to eat. Finally he comes to a "stop" on the Underground Railroad—a cabin he recognizes by the quilt that is hanging out front. Readers will need some suspension of disbelief to determine whether the night creatures are "helping": Mosquitoes bite only the Heavy Boots, the deer leads the pursuers far away, lightning bugs show the Barefoot the quilt when the moon goes under a cloud. Nevertheless, Edwards and Cole (Some Smug Slug, p. 528, etc.) create a moving story that conveys the terror that drove slaves to flee plantations, risking their lives for freedom.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613113076
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.88 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela Duncan Edwards is the author of numerous popular picture books, including Livingstone Mouse; Roar! A Noisy Counting Book; Some Smug Slug; The Worrywarts; Clara Caterpillar; Wake-Up Kisses; Rosie's Roses; The Leprechaun's Gold; and Gigi and Lulu's Gigantic Fight, all illustrated by Henry Cole; as well as Dear Tooth Fairy, illustrated by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick; McGillycuddy Could!, illustrated by Sue Porter; and The Neat Line, illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal. She lives in Virginia.

Henry Cole is the celebrated illustrator of many books for children, including the Bad Boys series by Margie Palatini, and is also the author and illustrator of the novel A Nest for Celeste.

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