Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Almost to Freedom

Almost to Freedom

5.0 5
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Colin Bootman (Illustrator)
Sally, tattered rag doll, tells the story of a young girl and her parents as they escape from slavery and start the dangerous journey along the Underground Railroad to a place called Freedom. Lindy and Sally are best friends -- wherever Lindy goes, so does Sally. They eat together, sleep together, and they even pick cotton together. So, when Lindy and her mama run


Sally, tattered rag doll, tells the story of a young girl and her parents as they escape from slavery and start the dangerous journey along the Underground Railroad to a place called Freedom. Lindy and Sally are best friends -- wherever Lindy goes, so does Sally. They eat together, sleep together, and they even pick cotton together. So, when Lindy and her mama run away one night, Sally goes too. At their first stop, Sally and Lindy are hiding in the basement when slave catchers approach. Lindy and her parents must escape quickly. In the rush Sally is left behind, will she be found? Stunning paintings capture the drama and emotion of this unforgettable story.

Editorial Reviews

Lindy's beloved rag doll, Sally, tells how Lindy's family escapes on the Underground Railroad to find freedom "in a place called North." The doll's narrative and Bootman's dark, dramatic paintings bring close the child's daily experience: the cruel separation and physical punishment, and then the adventure of running away and hiding. At times it's hard to distinguish Sally from Lindy--why not just let the child tell the story herself? But then there's an anguished twist in the plot: the child and her doll are separated. Lindy gets away, but in the turmoil she leaves her doll behind. When another escaping child finds Sally and hugs her to herself, the story comes full circle. That's a powerful way to express the sorrow of loving families torn apart, and Bootman's stirring portraits, many of them set at night, in rich shades of purple and brown, show that the small rag doll bears witness to historical events of cruelty and courage. Hazel Rochman Copyright � American Library Association. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
As she explains in an author's note, Nelson (Mayfield Crossing) was inspired to write this story by a folk art museum's exhibit of black rag dolls, a few of which were discovered in Underground Railroad hideouts. Narrating this touching tale is a doll named Sally, who begins, "I started out no more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation." Miz Rachel stitches Sally together for her daughter, Lindy, who hugs the doll and tells her, "We gonna be best friends." Through Sally's perceptive eyes, readers catch a hard-hitting glimpse of slave life: as mother and daughter pick cotton under the gaze of an overseer, Sally hears him holler at them "like he's talkin' to a couple of horses." And after "Massa" whips Lindy when she asks his son how to spell her name, the tearful girl vows to her doll that someday "we be goin' to Freedom." A captivating account of escape via the Underground Railroad includes many suspenseful moments, among them a hasty departure from a safehouse that results in Lindy's inadvertently leaving Sally behind. Readers will be saddened by this turn of events-until another escaping slave child makes the doll her own. Nelson's writing is immediate and often lyrical. Yet it is Bootman's (The Music in Derrick's Heart) realistic paintings, distinctive for their skillful use of light and darkness, that best convey the story's pathos and urgency. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"No more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation," Sally the rag doll tells her story in the vernacular. She is the much-loved companion of Lindy, who picks cotton with her mother listening to the tales of "somethin' called Freedom." One night they escape through the Underground Railroad. It is a harrowing trip, but they are helped all along the way. Climbing out of a hiding place, Lindy accidentally leaves Sally behind. Her sad loneliness is ended when another young fugitive takes her in her arms for comfort on her way to freedom. Paintings, full and double page, emphasize the melodramatic emotions. Set primarily at night, Bootman's narrative scenes emerge out of the enveloping dark, faces illuminated by moonlight or other non-specific source. In this naturalistic scenario with strong emotional content, the human relationships are depicted with particular attention to family. The Author's Note adds information on the Underground Railroad and the doll she saw in a museum that inspired the story. A useful glossary of historic words is included. 2003, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, Ages 6 to 9.
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A compelling story told from the point of view of an enslaved child's beloved rag doll. Made for young Lindy by her mama, Miz Rachel, the hand-stitched toy is the girl's most prized possession. She tells her, "Your name be Sally. We gonna be best friends." When the child's father is sold and Lindy is beaten for asking Massa's son how to spell her name, the horrid conditions of the cotton plantation become intolerable. One night Miz Rachel wakes Lindy and they run for their lives. They are reunited with Mr. Henry and the fugitive family heads North to freedom. They are given shelter at a station on the Underground Railroad, but must flee from slave catchers in the middle of the night. In the frantic scramble, Sally is left behind. The doll is lonely for her friend and worries for the safety of Lindy and her folks. When another child and her mother are sheltered in the basement, the doll joins her new best friend on her trip to Freedom. This accessible story is told in language that is within the experience of a young child and makes its impact without frightening or overwhelming readers. It is ultimately a story of hope and resilience, love and friendship. The evocative oil paintings are expertly rendered and effectively convey the powerful emotions of the tale. A fine addition to most collections.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A doll's-eye view of slavery and escape fails to succeed. Miz Rachel fashioned Sally out of cloth for her little girl, Lindy. Doll and girl spend all their time together in the field working, at the meetings where freedom is discussed, and even when Lindy's papa is sold "down the river." Every last familiar plot twist is here: the difficult field work, the cruel overseers, the beating Lindy endures when she is caught writing words in the sand, the harrowing escape, the reunion with Lindy's papa, who has somehow managed to meet his family on a darkened river road, and the kindly white couple who hides the threesome in a cellar. Dark, expressive paintings accompany the narrative, though the brilliantly white headscarves seem oddly misplaced during the nighttime escape. The dialect fluctuates haphazardly from sentence to sentence losing the voice altogether. The unusual choice of a doll as narrator may appeal to some readers. Reread Deborah Hopkinson's Under the Quilt of Night (2001) instead. (author's note, limited glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Carolrhoda Picture Books Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.24(w) x 11.38(h) x 0.22(d)
530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Almost to Freedom 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked the book. I thought the pictures went very well with the story that was being told. It has a lot of meaning and causes you to think about situations one tends to forget about. i really liked the story line of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book, and decided to do a whole unit on the Underground Railroad just so that I can read it to my students.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book tells a story all should hear. Don't expect to have a dry eye by the end of the story. I am buying a copy for myself and for my teacher/daughter's first grade class. A delightful book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nelson, an accomplished storyteller, brings young readers and listeners an exceptional story of the Underground Railroad. Sally is a rag doll belonging to Lindy, a slave child. She has a 'right important job' as comfort and companion to Lindy throught the hardships of slavery and her family's flight to freedom. Sally is lost on the trip, and after a lonely, weary time, she becomes comfort and companion to another slave child. The illustrations by Colin Bootman are stunning, capturing the warmth and drama of the story. Another fine tale adding to Nelson's award-winning work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Almost to Freedom is the story of a family's flight to freedom. It is a deeply moving tale, cast in a fresh light, as it is told by the child's ragdoll. The doll's voice is poignant and perfect for the story. With its beautiful illustrations, this is a book for every home and library. Hurrah! and Bravo! for this much needed and marvelous book!