Escape to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Adventures of Callie and William

Overview

The year is 1858, and a 14-year old house servant named Callie and another young slave named William attempt a daring escape on the Underground Railroad. Traveling by night, these brave teens come across things they cannot believe, such as an African-American newspaper published by escaped slave Frederick Douglass, all the while amazingly avoiding capture.

Barbara Brooks weaves fact-based oral histories of the fictional characters Callie and William with rich...

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Overview

The year is 1858, and a 14-year old house servant named Callie and another young slave named William attempt a daring escape on the Underground Railroad. Traveling by night, these brave teens come across things they cannot believe, such as an African-American newspaper published by escaped slave Frederick Douglass, all the while amazingly avoiding capture.

Barbara Brooks weaves fact-based oral histories of the fictional characters Callie and William with rich period photographs, maps, and/or illustrations on every page, that place the adventures squarely within the era. 

An account of two slaves who escaped from their masters in Kentucky and, aided by the people of the Underground Railroad, made their way to freedom in Canada.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Combining oral history, facts know about the Underground Railroad, and period photographs and drawings, this book presents what it was like for two young slaves to try to escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad. While overall the reader will gain an understanding of such an experience, there are several problems with the book. Much is actually fictionalized; the two slaves whose journey is followed and the grandmother who is left behind are not actually real, making their oral history fiction. The young reader for whom this book is intended may well overlook the sentence in the introduction stating that Callie, William, and Martha are fictional people. The "oral" histories, insets throughout the text, are written in a white person's English, not as an escaped slave would write. With today's emphasis on primary documents, these fictionalized oral histories are a disservice to young readers. The paintings do not always match what the text is describing, which again might confuse the reader who thinks they are illustrations of Callie and William's journey. Other photographs and drawings, again primary source material, are excellent and do much to enhance understanding of the people and events of the time. The full-page photo of an obviously naked male in chains in the introduction seems an unusual choice. Like the oral histories, other options were available which might better suit the purpose and audience. 2004, National Geographic Society, Ages 8 to 12.
—Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Fiction and nonfiction elements combine (sometimes confusingly) in this look at the Underground Railroad. The introduction provides straightforward information, but the bulk of the book recounts the adventures of two fictional characters who escape from slavery, meet on their journey north, and make it to Canada in 1858. Though the author states up front that Callie, a 14-year-old field worker from a plantation, and William, a city slave owned by a merchant, are not real people, the historical photos that accompany this pronouncement downplay that point. Also, the narrative slides between details of their travels and facts about the Underground Railroad and the actual people (such as John Parker and Harriet Tubman) involved in it, blurring the lines even further. Inset boxes tell parts of the story from the points of view of William, Callie, and her grandmother who remains behind in Kentucky. This title includes many characteristics of good nonfiction: cohesive organization of information, crisp photographs and period illustrations, and a helpful glossary. However, the manner in which it interlaces real and fictional characters and situations will mislead many readers.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792265511
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 2/1/2004
  • Series: I Am American Series
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 766,958
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.45 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.14 (d)

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