Night Running: How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog

Night Running: How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog

by Earl B. Lewis, E. B. Lewis
     
 

It's 1838, and James has made a secret plan to escape Master Graham’s farm–and slavery. James tells his dog Zeus he has to stay behind: he’s simply too noisy to bring along on a dangerous nighttime journey. But when two white men capture James soon after he runs, he’s grateful his faithful hunting dog didn’t obey. Zeus has followed

Overview

It's 1838, and James has made a secret plan to escape Master Graham’s farm–and slavery. James tells his dog Zeus he has to stay behind: he’s simply too noisy to bring along on a dangerous nighttime journey. But when two white men capture James soon after he runs, he’s grateful his faithful hunting dog didn’t obey. Zeus has followed behind, and the scrappy hound rescues James from his captors. An author’s note describes the real life inspiration behind the book: James Smith, a slave who escaped with the help of his dog and went on to become a farmer and Baptist minister.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 2008:
"A vividly realized narrative, based on a true story."

Publishers Weekly

Carbone's (Stealing Freedom) powerful first picture book, based on a true story, is set in 1838, when James, a young slave, decides to escape his master's Virginia farm and reluctantly tells his noisy dog, Zeus, to stay behind ("One skinny old hunting dog wasn't worth staying for. Not when there was freedom to be had"). Ignoring the boy, Zeus comes anyway and saves James's life several times, helping him escape his master's lackeys, kill vicious slave-catching dogs and cross the Ohio River when James's canoe sinks. Dramatically illuminated by sunshine and moonlight, Lewis's (Coming on Home Soon) watercolors highlight the characters' peril-in one scene, James tenses as he's about to be whipped by his captor; equally upsetting is the sight of James and Zeus fending off the pack of dogs. Carbone's colloquial narrative offsets the harsh reality ("Ropes that are slimed up with dog spit are mighty easy to untie!") and emphasizes the sometimes strained but tender friendship between boy and dog. This emotionally charged account will move children and parents alike, right through the quietly triumphant denouement. An author's note provides details about the real James Smith's later years. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Carbone's story of a successful slave escape in 1838 is distinctive because of the role played by a faithful dog. When young James decides to run for his freedom, he decides he must leave his always hungry and noisy dog Zeus behind. But Zeus rescues him when he is caught at first, then fights slave-catching dogs when he is on the run. Zeus even catches squirrels for them to eat. After five days they arrive at the Ohio River. James finds a canoe and again attempts to leave Zeus behind. But when it sinks, Zeus pulls him to land on the safe side of the river. James insists that the Quaker farmer who takes him in accept Zeus as well. They enjoy freedom together. The repeated refrain of how Zeus is "good at that" runs through the story. Lewis's naturalistic double-page scenes are loaded with emotion. Much of the action is at night and through woods with the limited light enhancing the narrative danger. Even in Jim's final repose in the barn, the filtered light falling on him gives the sense of an ongoing threat. The visual narrative packs a punch from the jacket portrait of fearful boy and dog. A note fills in the facts about the real James Smith on whose story the book is based. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4
Through skillful storytelling, Carbone captures the heroics of a boy and his faithful hunting dog in search of freedom. The story begins in 1838 when James Smith leaves behind his life as a slave on Master Graham's farm in Virginia (now West Virginia). The boy does not originally plan to take Zeus because he's "always hungry" and too noisy-"more racket than a sack of pots and pans." However, the hound is persistent-a good thing since he saves James's life more than once. On the north bank of the Ohio River, a Quaker farmer finds the pair. James goes with him only when his dog is also welcomed. An author's note gives additional facts about James Smith and his flight to freedom, his life in Huron County, OH, and Canada. The realistic watercolors bring James to life and convey Zeus's devotion to his owner. The watercolor paintings beautifully evoke the sun-drenched cotton fields. Deep purples and rich, dark greens capture the moonlit night and contrast with James's light clothing. Hope and freedom are reflected in the brighter colors of the last pages. A vividly realized narrative, based on a true story.
—Carolyn JanssenCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375822476
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/08/2008
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.76(w) x 11.29(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile:
AD640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Elisa Carbone is a full-time writer and a part-time windsurfer, rock climber, and lindy hop dancer. She is the mother of two grown children. The author lives in Maryland and West Virginia.

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