Bright Freedom's Song: A Story of the Underground Railroad

Bright Freedom's Song: A Story of the Underground Railroad

by Gloria Houston
     
 


Bright Cameron has always been taught that freedom is a person's most precious right. After all, Papa came to America as a poor indentured worker from Scotland and he toiled for years until his friend Marcus, a slave, helped him to freedom. But for Bright, slavery has always been something she has only heard about. Then she discovers that Mama and Papa are hiding…  See more details below

Overview


Bright Cameron has always been taught that freedom is a person's most precious right. After all, Papa came to America as a poor indentured worker from Scotland and he toiled for years until his friend Marcus, a slave, helped him to freedom. But for Bright, slavery has always been something she has only heard about. Then she discovers that Mama and Papa are hiding runaway slaves in a hidden compartment of Papa's wagon and boarding them in the barn. Soon Bright, too, becomes involved in her family's secret world. One night, when Papa falls ill, Bright discovers how dear freedom truly is--and what price it exacts from those who must struggle for it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Houston's (Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree) preface and afterword emphasize several facts and convictions that inform her at times ponderous novel: chiefly, she sees a connection between the experience of indentured servants in this country and their willingness, once freed, to help slaves escape. Bright, the heroine of her novel, is the daughter of one such former servant, Charles Cameron. Charles fled a cruel master (long before the story opens in 1853) with the help of a fellow worker, Marcus, an African sold into slavery. Marcus has safely crossed into Canada, but he returns periodically to the Camerons' North Carolina farm, a safe house on the Underground Railroad, to act as a guide to escaping slaves. Despite significant doses of stiff dialogue designed to impart historical details and weigh moral issues, Houston shapes an affecting family portrait. At its heart is Bright's growing awareness of her parents' dangerous work. There are some sad, and sadly realistic, moments here: Bright finds a half-dead slave--younger than she--who was attacked by his master's dogs, and later she learns that he and his master's daughter, who had run away with him, have been caught and killed. But she also works in some unlikely coincidences, including an incident straight out of The Sound of Music (Toby, a former apprentice of Cameron's with whom Bright has had a flirtation, is one of the Confederate soldiers who stops Bright and Marcus as they drive escaped slaves to freedom; Toby vouches for them). Despite its weak spots, this novel effectively illuminates relatively obscure but intriguing angles of American history. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Hillary Theyer
Both of these new novels would make good choices for middle school readers just reaching for longer, more serious fiction about slavery and the Underground Railroad. They fit in nicely with works by Patricia Beatty, Joyce Hansen, and Patricia McKissack, and would make good curriculum reading in school units on the subject. The characters are teenagers, and the issues both young women face are serious. Neither book has a clean, triumphant ending with complete assurance that all will turn out right-instead, the reader is left to ponder the fate of the characters and hope for their future. In North by Night, sixteen-year-old Lucy helps her family hide runaway slaves on their farm in Ohio. The biggest conflict in her life is that she is loved by two men, one an upstanding local citizen who has no idea of her activities, and the other a Quaker who also helps slaves. One winter, Lucy is called upon to help a widow hide and care for nine slaves, including a pregnant woman. When she cannot travel on, the woman stays behind and becomes Lucy's friend as she waits to have her baby. Three days after the baby is born, the woman dies, and Lucy is left with the task of getting the baby to relatives in Canada. In doing so Lucy risks her reputation, her life, and the people she loves. Bright Freedom's Song is the story of young Bright Cameron, whose family lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. When Bright stumbles upon her family's secret cellar for hiding slaves, she learns of her father's past as an abused indentured servant. She also meets her father's friend Marcus, a former slave who helps guide others to freedom. As Bright sorts out her feelings about living in the South and having friends who own slaves, she is called upon to take her father's place driving a wagon to the next station when her father is ill. Both books are enjoyable reading for historical fiction fans. North by Night is for older readers due to its discussions of slaves bearing children by their masters, the role of a single woman in society, and the conflicts over slavery between religions. Both titles are highly recommended purchases for school libraries with Underground Railroad units of study.
Note: This review was written and published to address two titles-North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad, and Bright Freedom's Song: A Story of the Underground Railroad. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
Children's Literature - Melinda Medley Sprinkle
The year is 1861, and Bright Freedom Cameron is a courageous 14-year-old girl living deep in the mountains of North Carolina during the onset of the Civil War. Her family secretly works long hours in their barn, and as Bright gets older she learns of their hidden work. The talk of war and the right to own slaves is dividing the country, and her family is deeply involved. As part of the Underground Railroad, they transport escaped slaves, better known at that time as bundles, to safe points. Bright longs to assist her father, but because of the danger involved, she is limited to helping at home. When her pa suddenly becomes ill, opportunity knocks. She too will have the chance to lead others to safety. Bright, along with her friend, Marcus, a former slave and an acquaintance of her father, set off to carry bundles to the next safe haven. Even though severe punishment awaits if they are caught, she knows what her heart holds and what she must do. Bright's journey of determination and bravery is beautifully told and historically accurate. A lovely account of values and human compassion that every young adult will relate to. A map of the Underground Railroad, preface, afterward, and bibliography are also included.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152018122
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

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