Under the Freedom Tree

Overview

Taut free verse tells the little-known story of the first contraband camp of the Civil War—seen by some historians as the "beginning of the end of slavery in America." One night in 1861, three escaped slaves made their way from the Confederate line to a Union-held fort. The runaways were declared "contraband of war" and granted protection. As word spread, thousands of runaway slaves poured into the fort, seeking their freedom. These "contrabands" made a home for themselves, building the first African American ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$14.49
BN.com price
(Save 14%)$16.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (22) from $7.00   
  • New (16) from $7.00   
  • Used (6) from $8.88   

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK Kids for iPad

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (NOOK Kids)
$9.99
BN.com price
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.

Overview

Taut free verse tells the little-known story of the first contraband camp of the Civil War—seen by some historians as the "beginning of the end of slavery in America." One night in 1861, three escaped slaves made their way from the Confederate line to a Union-held fort. The runaways were declared "contraband of war" and granted protection. As word spread, thousands of runaway slaves poured into the fort, seeking their freedom. These "contrabands" made a home for themselves, building the first African American community in the country. In 1863, they bore witness to one of the first readings of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South—beneath the sheltering branches of the tree now known as Emancipation Oak.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
In staccato verse, VanHecke (Raggin’ Jazzin’ Rockin’) illuminates an absorbing slice of Civil War history: runaway slaves’ establishment of a settlement in newly seceded Virginia. In 1861, three slaves—Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory—escape by boat from a Confederate camp, “Away/ from Southern soldiers/ who would/ own them,/ work them,/ beat them,/ sell them,/ keep them slaves forever.” The three men land at a Union camp whose commander declares them “contraband of war” and refuses to return them to the Confederates. They and hundreds of other runaways who subsequently arrive in “Slabtown” work for the Union army and build two camps. Missionaries educate the children under the branches of the tree now known as the Emancipation Oak, where, in the story’s triumphant finish, a boy reads the Emancipation Proclamation. Ladd’s (Oprah: The Little Speaker) evocative and subtly textured acrylic, pastel, and colored pencil art reflects the evolving tenor of the story as uncertainty gives way to hope. An extensive author’s note delves deeper into this immersive true story of courage and grit. Ages 6–9. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Just in time for Black History Month, this "footnote" to history is fleshed out with a free verse retelling accompanied by full-paged, art-quality pictures in acrylics, pencil and pastels. At the start of the Civil War, many slaves were sent by Southern masters to do back-breaking work for the Confederate Army. Days after Virginia's secession from the Union, three slaves fled across Hampton Harbor to shelter with the Union Army under Colonel Charles Mallory. Here, readers get an excellent lesson in how laws can be parsed for the benefit of certain groups. Days earlier, the escaped slaves would have been subject to return under the Fugitive Slave Act. However, once Virginia seceded, Colonel Mallory was able to declare the slaves to be "contraband of war" and take possession of them. As word of this clever interpretation circulated, hundreds more slaves worked their way north to Hampton, Virginia. There, Contraband Camp was formed, a shantytown in a grey area between "free" and "slave." Most contraband people worked for the Union Army in the same manner they had once worked for the Confederates, but they also created a society with business transactions, farming, and—above all—education, which was formerly forbidden to them as slaves. Susan VanHecke's verse tells the story in a skeletal style. To read the full, utterly engrossing story, readers will need to read a prose backmatter account and, perhaps, follow up with suggested readings. However, there are points that the poem brings out dramatically, such as the status of enslaved humans ("Chattel. Persons as possessions. Owned and used like, cows, pigs, dogs"). The sharp, staccato rhythm of the verse lends itself to oral interpretation. Reading, now a skill acquired by freed children, is demonstrated when a child shares the Emancipation Proclamation with the camp while under the Emancipation Oak. This is a tale of resistance powerfully told. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
In 1861, three slaves escape from Confederate Virginia and find freedom. When their owner demands their return under the Fugitive Slave Act, Union Gen. Frank Butler declares that since Virginia has just seceded, the men are "contraband of war." Many other escaped slaves join them and build a community called Slabtown. A year into the war, another town called Grand Contraband Camp arises from the ruins of Hampton, Va. While former "chattel" spend their days working for the Union Army, their evenings are devoted to learning letters and numbers from missionary teachers standing under a live oak. The year 1863 brings the Emancipation Proclamation, read aloud under what the community calls the Freedom Tree. A precedent was set as, according to the author's note, the land grew into Hampton University. The Emancipation Oak, that Freedom Tree, is now part of a National Historic Landmark District. VanHecke's free-verse narrative is compelling, informative and emotive, telling the story by year from 1861 to 1863. Ladd uses acrylic and pastel paints with colored pencils to present a realistic depiction of events, the danger that the men faced while escaping and the jubilation felt as they listened to the words that freed them. A valuable addition to the expanding canon of books on slaves escaping to freedom. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580895507
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 379,224
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan VanHecke is the author of Raggin’ Jazzin’ Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers (Boyds Mills, 2011), an ALA Notable Children’s Book; and An Apple Pie for Dinner (Marshall Cavendish, 2009), as well as several books for adults. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

May moon gleams bright as
Colonel’s buttons.
Three slip out unseen. Frank,
James,
Shepard scramble down the sandy bank,
hearts drumming,
eyes darting,
knees trembling.
Weathered skiff bobs in rustling rushes.
Quick now, and quiet!
Stars hold their breath and so do the three,
four miles from the old oak tree.
Oars dip,
no sound,
silver ripples.
Steal away now,
away.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)