Steal Away Home

( 12 )

Overview

When twelve-year-old Dana Shannon starts to strip away wallpaper in her family's old house, she's unprepared for the surprise that awaits her. A hidden room — containing a human skeleton! How did such a thing get there? And why was the tiny room sealed up?
With the help of a diary found in the room, Dana learns her house was once a station on the Underground Railroad. The young woman whose remains Dana discovered was Lizbet Charles, a conductor and former slave. As the scene ...

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Steal Away Home

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Overview

When twelve-year-old Dana Shannon starts to strip away wallpaper in her family's old house, she's unprepared for the surprise that awaits her. A hidden room — containing a human skeleton! How did such a thing get there? And why was the tiny room sealed up?
With the help of a diary found in the room, Dana learns her house was once a station on the Underground Railroad. The young woman whose remains Dana discovered was Lizbet Charles, a conductor and former slave. As the scene shifts between Dana's world and 1856, the story of the families that lived in the house unfolds. But as pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, one haunting question remains — why did Lizbet Charles die?

In two parallel stories, a Quaker family in Kansas in the late 1850s operates a station on the Underground Railroad, while almost 150 years later twelve-year-old Dana moves into the same house and finds the skeleton of a black woman who helped the Quakers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Lois discovers a diary and a human skeleton in a hidden room, she learns that her house was a station on the Underground Railroad; scenes alternate between 1856 and the present. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
The discovery of a skeleton hidden in a secret room in the home Dana's family has recently bought triggers an historic search to identify the skeleton. The story alternates between the present and 1856. Dana and her friends recover an old diary that reveals some of the answers to their question. The skeleton is 130 years old and is that of a black woman, Lizbet Charles. Dana's "new" home may have served as a stop on the Underground Railway. The flash backs to the past help readers see how dangerous it was for the abolitionists and how determined slave holders were to retrieve their property. A nominee for the California Young Reader Medal.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Dana, 12, is helping her parents to restore an old house in Kansas as a bed-and-breakfast when she discovers a boarded-up room containing a human skeleton. With it, she finds the diary of Millicent Weaver, a Quaker and early resident of the house. She learns that the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that runaway slaves were taken there by a former slave, Lizbet Charles. Of course, Miz Lizbet is Dana's skeleton, and the cause of her death at the age of 25 is finally revealed at the end of the novel. The story is told in alternating chapters, shifting between the present and 1856, when the events involving the long-dead young woman took place. The best developed character is young James Weaver, who struggles with his family's philosophy of nonviolence and with the secrets he must keep. The historical sections flow together well, revealing aspects of Miz Lizbet's life, which in some ways resembles Harriet Tubman's. The Weavers use traditional Quaker speech, liberally sprinkled with thee and thou. The modern-day scenes are somewhat less successful, and some of the conversations among the young people are a bit contrived. Still, the book will make a nice addition to historical fiction collections about pre-Civil War events.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689824357
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: Repackage
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 112,508
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.46 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Lois Ruby is the author of several novels, including Steal Away Home, which was named an IRA Young Adults' Choice and a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC). Before she turned to writing, she was a young adult librarian for the Dallas Public Library. In her spare time she serves on the board of Inter-Faith Inn, a homeless shelter in Wichita, Kansas, and sometimes teaches minicourses to seventh and eighth graders. “The place I feel most comfortable,” she says, “is among teenagers, laughing.” The mother of three sons, she lives in Wichita with her husband, Thomas.

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Table of Contents

1 Tear Down the Wall 1
2 No Names 6
3 Identity: Unknown 12
4 The Wakarusa War 22
5 Night of the Living Bones 30
6 The Free-State Hotel 35
7 No Nancy Drews 41
8 You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet! 46
9 Edmund Wolcott's Castle 52
10 Thirty Cannonballs 58
11 The Sack of Lawrence 65
12 Follow the Drinking Gourd 72
13 The Conductor 79
14 Three First Names 82
15 Uncle Mose 88
16 They Never Looked Back 92
17 The View from Lizbet's Cot 98
18 Like a Real Son 101
19 Plumb Crazy 109
20 Tornado! 114
21 Wild Indigo 119
22 Hush Puppies 128
23 Will's Quest 134
24 I'm Melting, I'm Melting! 142
25 All Alone 147
26 Hog Slaughter 153
27 The Funeral 163
28 The Return of Marshal Fain 168
29 Up to the Tower 174
30 Amen 182
31 Written in Stone 190
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Introduction

Teaching Guide

About the Book

When Dana Shannon discovers a full skeleton, sealed away in a little hidden room in the nineteenth century house her family is restoring, she stumbles onto a mystery that draws her deep into the past. The old bones date back to just before the Civil War, when pro- and anti-slavery factions transformed the territory of Kansas into the battleground known as Bleeding Kansas. Told in chapters that alternate between Dana's detective work in the 1990s and the story of James Weaver and his anti-slavery Quaker family in 1856, Steal Away Home interweaves a contemporary suspense story with an engrossing historical drama. Chosen a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, "this skillfully rendered book," as The Horn Book observed, "will appeal to a wide audience and serve beautifully for a variety of teaching purposes."

Discussion Topics

  • In 1856, James Weaver's life is changed forever when he meets Lizbet Charles, a one-time slave who now helps others find freedom via the Underground Railroad. More than one hundred years later, how does Lizbet also change the life of Dana Shannon?
  • Dana's friend Ahn is a refugee from Vietnam, a country that suffered through an especially long and devastating war. Compare Alm's twentieth-century experience to those of Lizbet Charles's back in the nineteenth-century. What are the important similarities? What are the important differences?
  • As Dana explains it, her parents never tell her what to do. They lay out her choices, let her know what they think she should do, and then leave it to her to decide. Did James Weaver's parents have a similar philosophy? Whatare the pros and cons of being allowed to make your own decisions?
  • Talking about her husband, Mrs. Weaver tells her son, "Pa and I are of the same mind on this slavery business. He's doing it his way, I'm doing it mine." What is Mr. Weaver's way of fighting slavery? What is Mrs. Weaver's? Which approach would you have taken?
  • According to James's grandfather, "...a Quaker never raises his hand in wrath against another man...Neither does he roll over and play dead, son. Time comes, thee will know what to do." When does James have to decide how to act on his beliefs? What does he do? Why?
  • Despite James's concern that his mother was breaking the law once again, Mrs. Weaver agrees to teach Lizbet to read and write. Why do you think it was illegal to teach basic literacy skills to slaves? What threat did educated slaves pose to their owners?
  • Solomon Jeffrey, a free black man, could have used force against the slave trader who wanted to illegally capture him, but he didn't. Why? Would you have shown the same restraint if you were in Solomon's predicament?
  • Can laws be unjust? In the nineteenth century, abolitionists believed that laws permitting slavery were wrong. But what about today? Are there any current laws that you think should be overturned?

Projects and Research

  • Although it's unlikely you'll stumble onto a skeleton, dig deeper into the history of your own home. With the help of your parents or older family members, find out when the building was constructed and why. Learn as much as you can about earlier occupants. Did they leave anything behind after they moved?
  • The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called the Quakers, continues to attract believers. If possible, invite a member of the Society of Friends to speak to your class or group about their philosophy of pacifism. How do modern day Quakers act on that belief? During such major American wars as World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, how did Quakers respond?
  • Years after Lizbet dies, James remembers her heroism with a small marker. Who are the real-life, but little known, heroes and heroines in your community? Brainstorm ways you can pay tribute to them now.
  • The Drinking Gourd, the constellation better known as the Big Dipper, helped guide runaway slaves to what they hoped would be freedom in Canada. Go outside and search the sky one clear night. Take your own long look at the Drinking Gourd.
  • Research the life and legacy of John Brown, the abolitionist whose violent tactics attracted James's friend Will and repulsed James's devoutly Quaker father. Do you think John Brown did harm or good to the anti-slavery cause? Why?
  • Imagine that you are James, just arrived on the Kansas frontier in 1856. Write letters to your friends back in Boston. Be sure to include a description of your new hometown and your thoughts about the ongoing struggles between pro- and anti-slavery factions.
  • The Underground Railroad had many stops throughout the northern United States. Was one of them in your hometown? If your community was established before the Civil War, research its history during that period.
  • There are many fine documentaries available about the anti-slavery movement and the coming of the Civil War. Search for them in libraries or video stores. Compare their nonfictional treatment of the era with the fictional account you've just read. Which approach do you prefer? Why?

About the Author

Lois Ruby began working on Steal Away Home, her fifth novel for young readers, when a mental image of a skeleton, sealed away behind a wall, began to haunt her thoughts. Once she had decided that the skeleton belonged to a runaway slave, Ms. Ruby started researching the history of Kansas just before the Civil War. She was soon hooked, and the story began to pour out at a furious pace. A former young-adult librarian, Ms. Ruby now spends most of her time writing and leading creative-writing workshops. She and her husband live in Wichita, Kansas, and are the parents of three grown sons.

Steal Away Home

by Lois Ruby

Steal Away Home

0-689-82435-1 /$4.50

$6.50 Canadian

Aladdin Paperbacks

0-02-777883-5/ $16.00

$22.50 Canadian

Simon & Schuster

Aladdin Paperbacks

Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Teaching Guide

About the Book

When Dana Shannon discovers a full skeleton, sealed away in a little hidden room in the nineteenth century house her family is restoring, she stumbles onto a mystery that draws her deep into the past. The old bones date back to just before the Civil War, when pro- and anti-slavery factions transformed the territory of Kansas into the battleground known as Bleeding Kansas. Told in chapters that alternate between Dana's detective work in the 1990s and the story of James Weaver and his anti-slavery Quaker family in 1856, Steal Away Home interweaves a contemporary suspense story with an engrossing historical drama. Chosen a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, "this skillfully rendered book," as The Horn Book observed, "will appeal to a wide audience and serve beautifully for a variety of teaching purposes."

Discussion Topics

  • In 1856, James Weaver's life is changed forever when he meets Lizbet Charles, a one-time slave who now helps others find freedom via the Underground Railroad. More than one hundred years later, how does Lizbet also change the life of Dana Shannon?
  • Dana's friend Ahn is a refugee from Vietnam, a country that suffered through an especially long and devastating war. Compare Alm's twentieth-century experience to those of Lizbet Charles's back in the nineteenth-century. What are the important similarities? What are the important differences?
  • As Dana explains it, her parents never tell her what to do. They lay out her choices, let her know what they think she should do, and then leave it to her to decide. Did James Weaver's parents have a similar philosophy? What are the pros and cons of being allowed to make your own decisions?
  • Talking about her husband, Mrs. Weaver tells her son, "Pa and I are of the same mind on this slavery business. He's doing it his way, I'm doing it mine." What is Mr. Weaver's way of fighting slavery? What is Mrs. Weaver's? Which approach would you have taken?
  • According to James's grandfather, "...a Quaker never raises his hand in wrath against another man...Neither does he roll over and play dead, son. Time comes, thee will know what to do." When does James have to decide how to act on his beliefs? What does he do? Why?
  • Despite James's concern that his mother was breaking the law once again, Mrs. Weaver agrees to teach Lizbet to read and write. Why do you think it was illegal to teach basic literacy skills to slaves? What threat did educated slaves pose to their owners?
  • Solomon Jeffrey, a free black man, could have used force against the slave trader who wanted to illegally capture him, but he didn't. Why? Would you have shown the same restraint if you were in Solomon's predicament?
  • Can laws be unjust? In the nineteenth century, abolitionists believed that laws permitting slavery were wrong. But what about today? Are there any current laws that you think should be overturned?

Projects and Research

  • Although it's unlikely you'll stumble onto a skeleton, dig deeper into the history of your own home. With the help of your parents or older family members, find out when the building was constructed and why. Learn as much as you can about earlier occupants. Did they leave anything behind after they moved?
  • The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called the Quakers, continues to attract believers. If possible, invite a member of the Society of Friends to speak to your class or group about their philosophy of pacifism. How do modern day Quakers act on that belief? During such major American wars as World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, how did Quakers respond?
  • Years after Lizbet dies, James remembers her heroism with a small marker. Who are the real-life, but little known, heroes and heroines in your community? Brainstorm ways you can pay tribute to them now.
  • The Drinking Gourd, the constellation better known as the Big Dipper, helped guide runaway slaves to what they hoped would be freedom in Canada. Go outside and search the sky one clear night. Take your own long look at the Drinking Gourd.
  • Research the life and legacy of John Brown, the abolitionist whose violent tactics attracted James's friend Will and repulsed James's devoutly Quaker father. Do you think John Brown did harm or good to the anti-slavery cause? Why?
  • Imagine that you are James, just arrived on the Kansas frontier in 1856. Write letters to your friends back in Boston. Be sure to include a description of your new hometown and your thoughts about the ongoing struggles between pro- and anti-slavery factions.
  • The Underground Railroad had many stops throughout the northern United States. Was one of them in your hometown? If your community was established before the Civil War, research its history during that period.
  • There are many fine documentaries available about the anti-slavery movement and the coming of the Civil War. Search for them in libraries or video stores. Compare their nonfictional treatment of the era with the fictional account you've just read. Which approach do you prefer? Why?

About the Author

Lois Ruby began working on Steal Away Home, her fifth novel for young readers, when a mental image of a skeleton, sealed away behind a wall, began to haunt her thoughts. Once she had decided that the skeleton belonged to a runaway slave, Ms. Ruby started researching the history of Kansas just before the Civil War. She was soon hooked, and the story began to pour out at a furious pace. A former young-adult librarian, Ms. Ruby now spends most of her time writing and leading creative-writing workshops. She and her husband live in Wichita, Kansas, and are the parents of three grown sons.

Steal Away Home

by Lois Ruby

Steal Away Home

0-689-82435-1 /$4.50

$6.50 Canadian

Aladdin Paperbacks

0-02-777883-5/ $16.00

$22.50 Canadian

Simon & Schuster

Aladdin Paperbacks

Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2008

    BEST

    This is the best book ever........ Im in the 6th grade... And we readed it with the best teacher ever mr.Mccracken at north west middle school.........Best book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2008

    COOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book had so many descriptive real feelings but it is also fiction. It was an outstandingly great book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    Good book!

    At first when I read this book in the 7th grade I couldn't understand it and the more I tried to understand it ,the more I thought how bored I was. So I put it down.I'm in the 8th grade now and the other day I picked it back up from my closet and I can't put the book down!I love it!But if you're not into the 'old days' or history, then I wouldn't suggest this book to you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2006

    A very fun and educational book!!!!!!!

    This book was a great book! I am in 5th grade and what i was learning in school was in this book. But this book is more exciting than school!! I think everything is more fun than school of course. I recamend every child to read Steal Away Home! You also have to read slowly because its a bit complicated but still great!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2002

    Awsome Book!!!

    This was an awsome book for me to read! The pages are full of suspense, yet historical information. When Dana first discovers the skeleton and the diary, she is excited yet baffled by the fact that her new house holds mystery and secrets. While her parents turn her house into a bed-and-breakfast, she unfolds the mystery that is hidden in the walls of her house. This is an outstanding book and I enjoyed every word of it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    steal away home

    Steal Away Home <BR/>Lois Ruby <BR/>Simon & Schuster Kids Publishing Division<BR/>Mystery<BR/><BR/> Steal Away Home is by Lois Ruby,Can you imagine finding a skeleton in a secret room? This is what Dana Shannon finds when she's peeling ugly orange musty rooster wall paper in the loft of the barn. Journey back and fourth between past and present when Dana finds the diary of Millicent Weaver. Join James and Miz Lizbet to find how Miz Lizbet died. As James grows to realize that his home is a underground railroad station he must choose between someone's life or his fathers trust. What will he choose?<BR/> <BR/> Dana is a main character like James. She is a 12 year old red haired girl who has freckles, a sense of curiosity, and is almost never willing to give something up, especially the diary of Millicent. Dana's mother is round as earth but with long piano legs. James has brown hair and has little pleasure in Kansas. He plays the violin and trusts his dad. He also wants to become an architect. Miss Lizbet Charles is a negro conductor of the underground railroad! She was 23 when she died. Millicent Weaver is mother to James and Rebecca as well as a conductor. Dana's/James' father and Rebecca are supporting characters. All these characters intertwine to determine the destiny of Miz Lizbet. With the diary Dana can figure out what happened to Miz Lizbet<BR/><BR/> Steal Away Home by Lois Ruby is a must read for every child because this mystery will give children a sense of what was going on in the underground railroad. what will james dad do read and find out. I rate this book A 4/5 because it was easy to follow even though the characters switch. They finally find out how Miz Lizbet died, but if you want to find out read it for yourself the book. Do you dare to read it and find out how she died?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2005

    WORST BOOK EVER!!

    My class was assigned to read this book as a bookreport book and my whole grade hated it!! It was soo incredibly boring and if you don't want to die of boredom please don't read it. Chapter one was interesting so I continued reading the book but after the first chapter I nearly died, as did the rest of my class. I seriously could not get through reading this book and I generally love reading. I definately would not recomend this book to anyone of any age. It was a waste of time and if you really want to read a good book read Harry Potter or Pride and Prejudice if you have not already.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2001

    Steal Away Home

    This historical fiction book is about a twelve-year-old girl whose name is Dana. She has just moved to an old house, on Tennessee Street. While ripping off paper in the upstairs barn she finds a skeleton in a small room. How did it get here? She immediately asks. Right beside the skeleton she finds a small, little, black diary. While reading the diary entries, the best scientists try to un- reveal the mysterious mystery. Was her house an Underground Railroad? Was they family who once lived here Quakers? Where they hiding a slave by the name Lizbet Charles? The biggest question of all, though, was how and why did Ms. Lizbet die? I really enjoyed reading this historical fiction book. It is very interesting yet suspenseful. I would recommend this book to almost everyone, especially historical fiction fans. It tells you that no matter how big or small you are always helpful in many ways. What made me pick this book up and read, was that I love reading about historical fiction, especially about slaves. How they survived following the North Star and while helping others reach freedom, as well. I thought that the book was not going to be about a girl finding out a huge mystery, but I guess it turned out to be the exact opposite of what I had thought. If I were to rate this book 1-5 I would rate it a 4, because the author could have added a little more detailed and made the book even a little longer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2001

    The Best and most fun way to discover history

    This book is neat. Every other chapter is today then the past... It is a great way to discover history. I strongly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2000

    Steal Away Home

    Steal Away Home is a book about a 12 year old girl named Dana Shannon. When helping her her parents she finds a diary behind the wall of her house. I enjoyed this book because it goes back and forth from different timelines. It also has some history in it and I enjoy books like that. Also I like tht it's like reading to stories in one book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2014

    Quiz anwesers

    1)leo
    2)jason
    3)pipers knife and annebeths sheild
    4)Ms dodds
    5)ella the harpy
    6)chrion
    7)bionca and hazel
    My name is Riley i am the daughter of posiedon

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 1999

    A Great Book if You can Understand it.

    I think that if I was younger this book would be harder to understand. You have to be able to go back and forth in different worlds and still understand it. I really didn't like that part, but I thought it was a good book. I enjoyed the characters very much especially James. I think that this book was a good example of historical fiction mixed with everyday life. I enjoyed reading this book, but I think that my recommended books are better for historical fiction.

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