Under the Quilt of Night


When night falls, and all is quiet, a slave girl starts to run. She follows the moon into the woods, leading her loved ones away from their master. There's only one place where he might not find them, and it's under the quilt of night.
Guided by the stars, they head north in the direction of freedom. At last, the girl sees a quilt — the quilt with a center square made from deep blue fabric — and knows it's a signal from friends on the ...

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When night falls, and all is quiet, a slave girl starts to run. She follows the moon into the woods, leading her loved ones away from their master. There's only one place where he might not find them, and it's under the quilt of night.
Guided by the stars, they head north in the direction of freedom. At last, the girl sees a quilt — the quilt with a center square made from deep blue fabric — and knows it's a signal from friends on the Underground Railroad, welcoming her into their home. And so she steps forward...
Deborah Hopkinson and James E. Ransome team up again, in this stunning companion to Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. Ransome's rich, powerful illustrations elicit all the emotion and suspense of Hopkinson's words, in a story that's sure to make your heart race and leave you breathless.

A young girl flees from the farm where she has been worked as a slave and uses the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom in the north.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
The stories surrounding the history of the Underground Railroad are often both heartbreaking and brimming with hope. So, it only seems logical that Deborah Hopkinson and James E. Ransome's sequel to Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt should possess both qualities in abundance. This outstanding book follows one girl as she leads her family from slavery to the path of freedom.

Poetic prose fills the pages of this exquisite book, with the first leg of the journey entitled "Running." This simple title combines with spare text to introduce readers to the beginning of a challenging voyage: "I'm young/but my legs are strong./I can run," the heroine declares. The words are matched with the heart-stopping image of a girl and her family running through shallow water under the night sky. Ransome's brilliant oil paintings bring the story to life. With glorious hues and strong feeling, he shows us the determination and hope of the slaves as they flee from bondage toward freedom. Using the stars as their guide, the family travels northward under cover of darkness and hides out in the forest during the day. Though hungry, tired, and scared, they know they cannot go back. The girl is continually on the alert for signs of help from the Underground Railroad, and she finally sees a woman come out of a house and drape a quilt across a fence while pointedly looking toward the woods. When the girl sees the blue center squares on the quilt, she knows this is a house that hides runaways. The fugitives find shelter and food with a loving white family and gear up for the next leg of their journey to freedom. They are then concealed in a wagon that brings them to a church deep in the woods; there they are given a hand-drawn map to guide them to the next refuge. Feeling closer to freedom, the little girl finally smiles and raises her voice in song, while the sun rises in golden glory.

While the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad has not been fully confirmed, this outstanding picture book is sure to resonate with very reader. Each page resonates with the anguish and hope that filled runaway slaves. Young readers will be entranced with the remarkable text. The breathtaking illustrations offer a closer look into the hearts of those brave people who risked everything to be free. This brilliant and timely tale of survival and faith is a great choice for young readers. (Amy Barkat)

Multicultural Review
This superb book provides a wonderful experince for all, young or old.
Chicago Sun-Times
Publishers Weekly
"Dramatic oil paintings and compelling verse-like prose combine to portray the harsh yet hopeful experience of travel along the Underground Railroad," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 5-10. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dramatic oil paintings and compelling verse-like prose combine to portray the harsh yet hopeful experience of travel along the Underground Railroad. Hopkinson and Ransome revisit the theme of their first collaboration, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. This time readers journey the precarious trail to freedom with a young runaway as she escapes to Canada via clandestine routes and dangerous nighttime treks. The intense opening spread features three panels showing her nameless family running for their lives by the light of the full moon, some shoeless or with only rags on their feet. (Subsequent pages show snarling dogs and overseers in hot pursuit.) The story comes to a formidable climax when they're almost discovered hiding in the back of a wagon. Hopkinson names each segment of the journey ("Running," "Waiting," "Hiding") and her narrative conveys the emotional and physical hardships of the trip ("Fear is so real, it lies here beside me"). The author connects the metaphorical protective quilt of night with folkloric elements (legend has it that quilts with blue center squares indicated safe houses on the Underground Railroad). Ransome fills in the characterizations with portraits that convey a strong familial connection and the kindness of the conductors along the way. This suspenseful story successfully introduces and sheds light on a pivotal chapter in America's history for youngest readers. Ages 5-10. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-In this companion to Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Knopf, 1993), a nameless young slave narrates the story of her escape with a small band of slaves. When they come to the edge of a town, she sees a woman leave a quilt with blue center squares out to air, takes it as a sign that the house hides runaways, and leads the group inside. There they receive dry clothing, food, and shelter for the night. The next day they leave hidden in a wagon, face a terrifying moment when would-be captors intercept them, and finally take the road to Canada and freedom. Ransome's dark oil paintings are a visual metaphor for the quilt of darkness that hides the runaways and are in sharp contrast to the brilliant, golden-hued scene depicting the girl's celebration of her freedom, arms outstretched, head raised to the sky where flying birds symbolize the liberty she is about to experience. The close-up scene of the slaves' pursuers astride galloping horses, led by dogs with teeth bared, is appropriately scary. The narrative is told in a series of poems, printed in negative type on the dark ground, and the language is lovely. In an author's note, Hopkinson acknowledges that she mixes fact with folklore, for some historians believe there is no proof there were actually quilts with hidden meanings to mark safe houses. Yet this story is powerfully told and provides a fine entr e into this period of history.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hopkinson and Ransome team up once again with a stunning tale about one family's trip on the Underground Railroad. More accessible to younger readers and listeners, it is a perfect companion to their Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (1993). Rhythmic prose, combined with Ransome's realistic oil paintings, follows the family of five as they escape slavery. Short, staccato phrases punctuate the running scenes and calmer, languid prose accompanies the family as they rest during the day. The story moves breathlessly as the family flees, with the slave catchers close behind. The title page shows the urgent racing feet with just the shadows of human forms reflected by the moon, embracing the family in "the quilt of night." The young daughter watches for a safe house and is rewarded with the signal: a quilt hanging on the fence of a farmhouse. But, instead of the traditional red square in the heart of the log cabin pattern, this quilt has a blue center, signaling a safe house. The daughter knocks on the door and answers with the password phrase, "The friend of a friend." The family spends a night, then hides in a wagon, and is nearly captured. Ransome's evocative paintings gradually lighten as the runaways run from the blue-black darkness of the midnight escape to the glorious red-orange morning sky of promised freedom in Canada. The blue doors and windows of the church on the final page echo the blue of the quilt at the safe house, and even the geese in flight celebrate freedom. Hopkinson captures the fear of the escaping slaves, but tempers their fear with the bravery and hope that spurred them on. An author's note gives further information about the Underground Railroad. An excellentintroduction to the topic for a younger audience. (Picture book. 5-10)
From the Publisher
Horn Book Expresses the poignant range of emotions experienced by slavves who risked the journey to freedom.

Multicultural Review This superb book provides a wonderful experince for all, young or old.

Chicago Sun-Times Exquisite.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689822278
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,519,675
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me won the 2014 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. His other award-winning titles include Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell; Deborah Hopkinson’s Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt; Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award; and Satchel Paige, written by his wife, Lesa. Mr. Ransome teaches illustration at Pratt Institute and lives in upstate New York with his family. Visit James at JamesRansome.com.

Deborah Hopkinson is the author of numerous award-winning children's books, including Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, winner of the International Reading Association Award, Girl Wonder, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award, and Apples to Oregon, a Junior Library Guild Selection. She received the 2003 Washington State Book Award for Under the Quilt for the Night. She lives in Oregon. Visit her on the Web at www.deborahhopkinson.com.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2003

    A winner!!

    This book is a wonderful accompaniment to "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt". There is not enough information in the social studies book about this historical event: the Underground Railroad. This book greatly depicts the courage and struggle the slaves experienced to gain their freedom. It's a definite winner in my classroom library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2001

    Highly recommended!

    I've long been a fan of SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT and this book is a wonderful companion to it. The artwork is stunning. This book has gotten starred reviews and it deserves them!

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