Freedom Train

Freedom Train

4.8 5
by Evelyn Coleman, David Riley

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Clyde Thomason is proud to have an older brother who guards the Freedom Train. It's 1947, and the train is traveling to all forty-eight states, carrying important documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Clyde is lucky that the train is stopping in Atlanta. In the segregated South the train will only stop at cities that agree to


Clyde Thomason is proud to have an older brother who guards the Freedom Train. It's 1947, and the train is traveling to all forty-eight states, carrying important documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Clyde is lucky that the train is stopping in Atlanta. In the segregated South the train will only stop at cities that agree to integrate the crowds lining up to glimpse its famous contents.

Clyde has been chosen to recite the Freedom Pledge, but he's afraid that he'll chicken out. It doesn't help that he's the favorite target of the class bully. When the bully tries to beat him up, Clyde is shocked that an African-American boy, William, comes to his rescue. He's even more shocked that William's family lives in the rich — and white — part of town. But why is he so surprised? And why can't he be open about his friendship with William? When William's family is threatened, Clyde must make a choice: Will he have the courage to speak out to protect William's freedom?

Evelyn Coleman paints a touching, often humorous picture of the 1940s South. Based on the real journey of the Freedom Train, this is the inspirational story of a young boy's awakening to the injustices around him — and to the idea that things could change.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in Atlanta in 1947, Coleman's (Born in Sin) novel looks at charged emotions in the segregated South. Twelve-year-old Clyde lives in the "mill village," where his mother works long hours to support their family. Clyde looks forward to letters from his older brother Joseph, a WWII marine who is a guard on the Freedom Train, which is carrying the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other significant documents on a nationwide tour. William, an African-American boy who's adept with a slingshot, rescues Clyde from a pummeling by the class bully; initially conflicted about befriending William, Clyde realizes that he doesn't want to be someone "who don't want to speak up when something ain't right." Coleman convincingly depicts Clyde's gradual awakening to the racism that surrounds him, as well as the prejudice his impoverished family faces ("People kept staring at us like we was the monkeys at a show," Clyde thinks when his father treats them to tea at a fancy department store restaurant). Despite the book's somewhat sluggish pace, historically minded readers should enjoy this snapshot of America's past. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.

It is 1947, and Clyde Thomason is looking forward to seeing his older brother Joseph. His brother is one of the guards on the Freedom Train. This important train, filled with documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, will be visiting forty-eight states. Going from town to town, it gives many a chance to glimpse at their shared history. To further stress the idea of a shared history, the train will not stop at towns that refuse to integrate the lines, allowing people of all races equal access to the treasured documents. Out of the children in his class, Clyde has been chosen to recite the Freedom Pledge when the Freedom Train arrives in town. But Clyde is terrified of speaking in public. It is not until he comes face to face with the cruelty of injustice that he truly experiences the meaning of freedom and how it is meant for all humanity. This book was an unexpected pleasure and a strong work. Its detail is beautiful and, at times, painful. Its voice jumps out at you from the first page and does not lose its potency throughout the rest of the work. The reader genuinely likes and becomes involved with Clyde and his family. This is a must-read. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena

Kirkus Reviews
Clyde Thompson may be the shortest 12-year-old in seventh grade, but he learns to stand tall in this story about the Freedom Train's arrival in Atlanta in 1949. The train is traveling the country to bring the great freedom documents-the Gettysburg Address, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights-to the American people. Clyde's older brother Joseph is a guard on the train and has befriended a black man named W.C. Lounds, though Clyde says, "I ain't never heard of a colored man being a white man's best friend." Clyde's own new friendship with an African-American boy named William Dobbs puts him in the middle of racial tensions in his city, but the courage of William, the example of Joseph and the spirit of freedom represented by the Freedom Train empower Clyde to do the right thing when necessary. The novel is heavy-handed and self-consciously inspirational, but it's a fine story of a moment in history when times were changing and the Freedom Train reminded Americans of their better selves. (author's historical note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Evelyn Coleman's books include To Be a Drum, White Socks Only, The Riches of Oseola McCarty, a Smithsonian Notable Book and a Carter G. Woodson Honor Book, and Born in Sin. Ms. Coleman lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she received the Atlanta Mayor's fellowship for achievement in children's literature. Visit Evelyn online at

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Freedom Train 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best and touching books I have ever read. I was abou 9 or so when I first read it. Loved and still love it! All ages should read this
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
This novel offers an important history lesson. **Freedom has a price. If one person is not free, then we all are not free. A quote from the front cover, "Sometimes you have to fight for what's right." This work of fiction, based on facts of the past, is well written, insightful, educational, and enlightening. Based on the protagonist's emotions and mind-set the readers will "feel" the injustices many people of the South felt and experienced during the 1940s and 1950s in the United States of America, as the country was moving away from segregation. This story is one of many stories told about the stage being set to move toward the Civil Rights movement in America. The tale of the "Freedom Train" will offer readers some history and probably truly bless them for reading about the Thomason family and the Dobbs family. A touching moment occurs on pages 124 to 125. *Quality reading material. *Worthwhile reading for its historical value. *Reminder of the changes that have occurred in America since the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to Little women. Mother is Tracy. Two boys and two girls. One of each have wings. Only one day old. Let her know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Followed after him
Anonymous More than 1 year ago