Steal Away Home

Steal Away Home

4.0 12
by Lois Ruby, Stephanie Roth
     
 

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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… See more details below

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?

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
Hazel Rochman
Dana Shannon, 12, finds a skeleton in a small, secret room of her old house in Lawrence, Kansas. The body turns out to be the remains of Lizbet Charles, a conductor on the Underground Railroad who found shelter with the Quaker family living in that house about 140 years earlier. Ruby has clearly done her historical research, but she's thrown in far too much for one short novel. As the story swings back and forth between the 1850s and now, there are all kinds of contrivances and connections, including an old diary to provide commentary and a contemporary Vietnamese refugee to point out parallels. Virginia Hamilton's "House of Dies Drear" (1968), also about a kid today who discovers his house once sheltered runaway slaves, is far more compelling, focusing on a few people rather than trying to include a whole history of the times. Still, the core of Ruby's story is high drama: the courage of those who traveled, led, and provided shelter on the Underground Railroad.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481425537
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
03/11/2014
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
348,537
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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