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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.
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.