4.3 4
by Shane W. Evans

A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger's home. Where are they heading? They ahgggre heading for Freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.See more details below

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A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger's home. Where are they heading? They ahgggre heading for Freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With haunting pictures and a few simple sentences, Evans (Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson) introduces beginning readers to a crucial piece of American history. In darkness lit mainly by moonlight, a slave family is seen sneaking away from a plantation, passing a sleeping overseer ("We are quiet"), creeping through shrubbery, and being greeted by a woman in a skirt and cap holding a lantern high ("We make new friends"). The eyes of the slaves shine with doubt and fear. Dense groupings of figures give a sense of immediacy, and rough charcoal lines echo the rugged paths the group travels. Difficult moments are handled with restraint: "Some don't make it," one page says, as a man with a rifle holds a defeated-looking slave. The slaves press on; the dawn that breaks around them is a metaphor for freedom. A man cradles a pregnant woman ("We are almost there"), and on the next page, he holds a swaddled newborn up to the shining sun in triumph. Telling the story without overwhelming readers is a delicate task, but Evans walks the line perfectly. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Just a few words per double-page spread, sometimes only one, join with the illustrations to tell the story of a slave family's fearful escape through the Underground Railroad. The tale begins in the dark of night as they flee, get help, are worn out, yet finally see the light of a rising sun ahead. They are free at last. The midnight blue pages begin at the end pages, producing the anxious emotions of the stealthy escape. Only some stars and a crescent moon with stark white eyes penetrate the dark. Charcoal-like line drawings are almost crude in their depiction of the hunters and their horses, as the hunted crawl through the night. At last, the yellow rays of dawn illuminate the pages as colors return for the final scenes. There's a sense of celebration; the reader can almost hear the crescendo. The front jacket's darkness is balanced by the happy, colorful rejoicing on the back. The dramatic story could hardly be told more tersely or more dramatically. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—A stellar introduction to the Underground Railroad, narrated by a group of slaves. Readers experience the fugitives' escape, their long nighttime journey punctuated by meetings with friends and enemies, and their final glorious arrival in a place of freedom. Evans boils the raw emotion of the experience down to the most compressed statements, both mirroring the minimal opportunities for expression during the secret journey and also creating a narrative that invites even the youngest listeners to visit this challenging subject. For this reason, the text may be read as is to preschool audiences, while the abbreviated prose may also generate a rich discussion for older students. Evans writes simply: "The darkness..../We are quiet./The fear./We run." Appropriately, the narration is told from a group perspective, which reflects the broader experience of enslaved African Americans—a theme continued in his full-bleed illustrations of figures cloaked in the anonymity of night. Though subdued in palette until the eruption of color as the figures reach the threshold of freedom, the author's collaged nocturnal paintings shimmer with an arresting luminescence. Two constants leap out from almost every page: the stars above and the bright, fearful eyes of the fugitives. When the travelers at last lift a newborn baby to the rising sun, readers celebrate along with the protagonists.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews

Powerfully expressive imagery will sweep young viewers into this suspenseful journey along the Underground Railroad. Accompanied by a commentary of, usually, just two or three words per spread, the scenes track a small group of escapees stealing through darkness beneath a thin crescent moon. They are seen running, crawling, resting tensely, taking brief shelter with "new friends," then wearily keeping on until sunrise at last brings them to their goal: "I am free. He is free. She is free. We are free." Underscoring the sense of fear and urgency with broad, slanted strokes of thinly applied paint, Evans limns his hunched, indistinct figures in dark lines and adds weight with scribbled fill and jagged bits of paper or cloth. His palette of midnight-dark blue lit only by the occasional yellow torch- or lantern light and white stars draws attention to the whites of the frightened escapees' eyes and makes sunlit Freedom all the more precious when attained. Lengthier accounts of travel on the Underground Railroad abound, but few if any portray the experience with such compelling immediacy. (afterword)(Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
BR (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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