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Underground
     

Underground

4.2 5
by Shane W. Evans
 

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One of School Library Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of 2011
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 are heading for Freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.

Overview

One of School Library Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of 2011
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 are 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.)
From the Publisher

“A stellar introduction to the Underground Railroad… 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.” —Starred, School Library Journal

“Powerfully expressive imagery will sweep young viewers into this suspenseful journey along the Underground Railroad…Lengthier accounts of travel on the Underground Railroad abound, but few if any portray the experience with such compelling immediacy.” —Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“With haunting pictures and a few simple sentences, Evans introduces beginning readers to a crucial piece of American history…Telling the story without overwhelming readers is a delicate task, but Evans walks the line perfectly.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“The mixed-media illustrations are the main focus here, and they're luminous and haunting. The tension between dark and light visually pulses through the spreads: the whites of the escaping family's eyes gleam in cut-paper collage, the slender crescent of a moon shines overhead, and the amber glow from a window or a searcher's torch stands out with startling distinction in scenes otherwise constituted almost entirely from shadowy blues and blacks.” —Starred, BCCB

“The minimal text drums like a heartbeat. From terror to triumph, a perfect evocation for very young readers of what it means to escape from bondage.” —Washington Post

“The achievement of ‘Underground' is to summon up for young readers the spirit and emotions -- desperation, fear and, ultimately, celebration -- of the Underground Railroad…This is more a poetic invocation of slavery and freedom than a real history. Young readers will need further explanation; older readers will want it. But the triumphant smile of a father, holding a newborn aloft in the boldly yellow sunshine requires no explaining at all.” —New York Times Book Review

“Shane W. Evans has created a book in which the emotional experience of the journey north is dominant.” —Orlando Sentinel

“As the runaways move North, the sky lightens, culminating in a brilliant yellow on the book's last spread. This stunning simplicity respects the young audience and makes us want to join in with the book's closing words…” —BookPage

“Evans' dark, angular pencil sketches, overlaid by shades of deep blue and green, are highly effective -- and as the slaves reach safety, vibrant yellows and oranges shout the glory of freedom.” —Chicago Sun-Times

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596435384
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
01/18/2011
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
903,954
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
BR (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

SHANE EVANS has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Shanna's Ballerina Show. He attributes much of his influence to his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and much of the United States. He is a firm believer in education and creative development for all people.

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Underground 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
alexusM More than 1 year ago
The pictures in this book are amazing and well deserving of the award. The pictures go into great detail of what took place during time period. The book includes just a few words which allows you to study the pictures and gain a better understanding to what those individuals endured.
A-Library-Friend More than 1 year ago
Shane Evans understated but powerful illustrations tell the amazing story of the struggles & uncertainty suffered by so many that traveled the Underground Railroad. And the joy at reaching the ultimate goal of Freedom! Wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HMatthew More than 1 year ago
This book follows and African American family and their journey as they escape to freedom. These illustration could not be more exceptional, I fell what they are feeling. This book has very few word yet has a mighty impact. The colors are mainly dark blues and grey's and blacks at the beginning and middle of the book representing the night. These colors give it a darker feel, showing how important the trip they are taking is, but then toward the end when they."are almost there," you see a bright explosion of yellows and oranges. As the book finishes and they find freedom it is a beautiful mix of bright colors. The journey to freedom was long and difficult but in the end well worth the risk. This picture book has amazing illustrations and is a good book for young readers to learn about a real struggle that many African Americans had to undergo in order to gain what was rightfully theirs to begin with, their freedom.
JMIKELABS More than 1 year ago
Once you take a look at this picture book, you will understand why it is was awarded the Coretta Scott King Award. The illustrations are immaculate! The dark, dull colors that Shane Evans used in this book engage the readers into feeling that they are actually there during the Underground Railroad. These people had to literally escape in the middle of the night. Although they were frightened they never gave up. They ran, crawled, slept and met new people. They did all of this in hopes of gaining their freedom. These people had to struggle to gain their freedom and sometimes we take our freedom for granted. I am truly impressed by the courage of these people. Great picture book! Few words, amazing story!