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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
There were many heroes of the Underground Railroad. From the tired and weary families who risked their lives to escape slavery to the instruments of freedom who helped them. One such amazing instrument was John Parker. As an ex-slave who had bought his own freedom, he knew of the pain and struggles his brethren were feeling. Parker made it his goal to help families escape their life of suffering into a free land. Freedom River tells the story of one such mission.
Kentucky was a slave state, but Ohio -- just across the Ohio River -- was free. Time and again, Parker sails across the river in the dark of night and brings slaves to Ohio. One night in November, Parker tries to free a family from the Shrofe plantation. But one man will not leave, fearful for his wife and child. Parker has to go back empty-handed, and the onset of winter prevents him from crossing the river for many weeks; in April, he tries again but is informed that Master Shrofe knows of the family's near escape and now keeps careful eye on all that they do -- even keeping their baby at the foot of his bed at night. Parker promises to help them. The next night he tells them to wait in the woods while he enters the master's house. Risking life and limb, he retrieves the infant, as Shrofe's angry shouts echo in the distance.
Told in an exquisite voice, this book highlights the heroes no one seldom hears about. The tone of the book is realistic and at times somber. The watercolor and collage illustrations, especially those evoking the blue of the night sky, adds depth and intensity to an already passionate story.