The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad

The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad

by Barbara Greenwood, Heather Collins
     
 

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This is the dramatic story of the Underground Railroad as seen through the eyes of two young girls -- Eliza, a runaway slave from a plantation in Virginia, and Johanna, whose family gives her refuge in St. Catharines, Canada West (now Ontario). In a unique mix of fact and fiction, each chapter is followed by background information and hands-on activities. Kids will…  See more details below

Overview

This is the dramatic story of the Underground Railroad as seen through the eyes of two young girls -- Eliza, a runaway slave from a plantation in Virginia, and Johanna, whose family gives her refuge in St. Catharines, Canada West (now Ontario). In a unique mix of fact and fiction, each chapter is followed by background information and hands-on activities. Kids will learn about life on a cotton plantation, about abolitionists who fought to have slavery made illegal, and about the heroic actions of Canadians who sheltered runaway slaves. Beautifully detailed drawings accompany the text making The Last Safe House a comprehensive, all-in-one resource.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This superb text vivifies the stories behind the flight to freedom.

This fictional story, based on the experiences of many real slaves and their helpers, is filled with drama and pathos and grips the reader from beginning to end. The mix of story, information, and activities for kids brings the past vividly alive. This is a terrific book, ideal for both home and classroom use.

In short chapters, the story of fictional escaped slave Eliza Jackson and her family unfold, paralleling the effect on and courage of Canadian Johanna Reid and her family, who hide Eliza and her brother Ben until they can safely reunite with their mother. Smoothly sandwiched in are maps, drawings, and factual passages that give background details of the time. The clean, approachable design presents all of these elements in a clear, organized manner and the black-and-white illustrations complement both fictional and historical elements.

A book that is part novel, part history lesson, and part activity guide. Surprisingly, Greenwood succeeds on all counts. Sepia drawings appear on almost every page, giving the book an open look.

Children's Literature - Trina Heidt
Painstakingly researched and eloquently written, The Last Safe House is nevertheless a fictional story. It is based, however, on stories of many slave and non-slave families involved with the Underground Railroad. This particular story is about a young runaway slave girl and her journey into St. Catharines, Canada West (now Ontario). Ms. Greenwood tells of the evolving relationship between 11-year-old Eliza Jackson, a runaway slave, and 12-year-old Johanna Reid, the daughter in a family involved with the secret network that passed fugitive slaves north to freedom. Readers will be kept involved as Johanna gradually begins to understand the importance of the task that her family has taken on. They will also be enthralled as the story climaxes with a confrontation between the girls and a ruthless slave catcher. Intertwined with Johanna's accounts are Eliza's stories of slave life, escaping, running, hiding, and being hunted and possibly captured. Also included are craft activities, snippets of history about plantation and slave life, songs, and biographies of several famous abolitionists. Add to that a bibliography, glossary and an index and this comprehensive book is complete. This is an outstanding resource for teachers, students and parents.
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
February is African American History Month and you may wish to share The Last Safe House with your family. The story of eleven-year-old Eliza, a slave fleeing to freedom through the Underground Railroad in 1856, is interspersed with songs, maps, activities (making gingerbread cookies and following the North Star, for example) and informative spreads on topics entitled "Slave Catchers" and "A Woman Called Moses." These additions broaden understanding of that period of American history at the same time that the compelling narrative chronicles the growing friendship between Eliza and Johanna Reid, whose house is a stop on the Underground Railroad. Johanna teaches Eliza to read and is warmly touched by Eliza's parting gift.
Kirkus Reviews
In short chapters, the story of fictional escaped slave Eliza Jackson and her family unfold, paralleling the effect on and courage of Canadian Johanna Reid and her family, who hide Eliza and her brother Ben until they can safely reunite with their mother. The narrative introduces the points of view of Johanna, who must cope with the changes the "midnight visitors" bring, and Eliza and Ben, who recount their adventures traveling north to Canada from Virginia. Smoothly sandwiched in are maps, drawings, and factual passages that give background details of the time, such as life on Southern plantations, profiles of important figures in the history of abolitionism, and activities, which nicely break up the information. The clean, approachable design presents all of these elements in a clear, organized manner and the black-and-white illustrations complement both fictional and historical elements.

Smithsonian Magazine
This superb text vivifies the stories behind the flight to freedom.
Quill & Quire
This fictional story, based on the experiences of many real slaves and their helpers, is filled with drama and pathos and grips the reader from beginning to end. The mix of story, information, and activities for kids brings the past vividly alive. This is a terrific book, ideal for both home and classroom use.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781550745092
Publisher:
Kids Can Press, Limited
Publication date:
06/28/1998
Series:
History Comes Alive Ser.
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.42(d)
Lexile:
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Greenwood is an award-winning author whose books include Gold Rush Fever, The Last Safe House and A Pioneer Thanksgiving. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Heather Collins has been illustrating children's books for more than 20 years. Her body of work includes many nonfiction books, such as the award-winning A Pioneer Story and Out Came the Sun. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children.

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