×

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

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Secret to Freedom
     

The Secret to Freedom

5.0 1
by Marcia Vaughan, Larry Johnson (Illustrator), Larry Johnson (Illustrator)
 
In 1860, 11-year-old Lucy and her brother Albert despair when their parents are sold off the plantation. One day Albert brings home a sack of ordinary-looking old quilts. But in fact their patterns are secret messages to slaves to help them plan their escape via the Underground Railroad. When Albert�s activities are exposed, he flees � with a gift from Lucy, a quilt

Overview

In 1860, 11-year-old Lucy and her brother Albert despair when their parents are sold off the plantation. One day Albert brings home a sack of ordinary-looking old quilts. But in fact their patterns are secret messages to slaves to help them plan their escape via the Underground Railroad. When Albert�s activities are exposed, he flees � with a gift from Lucy, a quilt square with the North Star stitched on it.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Framed as Great Aunt Lucy's story for an unnamed "child," the story is of Lucy, a slave in South Carolina and her brother Albert, who escapes to Canada just before Emancipation. The story also informs readers of the messages patchwork quilts carried when hung on a fence rail for other slaves to see. Becoming involved in the Underground Railroad, Albert and Lucy hang out the monkeywrench quilt pattern to indicate that escapers should gather tools they will need when they run; and tumbling blocks mean it is time to run. Since their parents have been sold, the two only have each other and Albert determines they should run away, too, except that his sister has a bad leg and would need to be carried. He leaves, with a tiny piece of quilt for good luck. Lucy stays behind, is freed, becomes a teacher, marries and waits. Years later, Albert sends Lucy the piece of quilt he carried and she recounts the reunion scene to "child." While informative, the story lacks the emotional depth it might have had if the first-person narrator had told the tale in her own voice, and the frame only serves to create a tale of remembrance. Johnson's bold-brushed paintings lend a certain grit to the story but are often muddy in detail. If Great Aunt Lucy was an older child in the 1860s, one would expect pictures to reflect some period detail, but clothing styles, backgrounds and interiors look anonymous or even contemporary, both in the past and in the era of telling, most likely the 1920s or 1930s. An author's note informs about the Underground Railroad and explains eleven codes the for quilt patterns, which are suggested on the back jacket. 2001, Lee & Low, $16.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A story of the Underground Railroad as told by a former slave to her great niece many years later. After Lucy's parents are sold, her older brother, Albert, tells her about the Underground Railroad. He explains that different patchwork quilt patterns provide secret messages to help escaping slaves and the two of them become involved in helping others find their way to freedom. After a serious beating, Albert runs away and Lucy doesn't know his fate. After the Civil War, she becomes a teacher and marries. Then one day, she receives a scrap of fabric in the mail from her brother in Canada. He is alive and well and bringing his family to visit her. Then readers realize that the child hearing the story is Albert's great granddaughter. Vaughn's well-written story is told with a modified colloquial language that hints at the unschooled plantation speech but is easily understood by today's readers. Johnson's expressive acrylic paintings are rich in color and emotion. An author's note explains the quilt code of a number of patterns that are pictured on the back cover.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Great Aunt Lucy recalls the time just before the Civil War when as slaves she and her older brother, Albert, helped others escape by using the patterns in quilts to send secret messages. Albert was a blacksmith who was loaned to other plantations. After one such trip, he brought home a sack of quilts, which, he explained, held secret codes—the "monkey wrench" signaled to gather tools for the trip, "tumbling blocks" that it's time to escape. When Albert gave the signal, ten-year-old Lucy would risk her life to help by hanging the appropriate quilt over the field fence for others to see. When Albert was badly beaten after being caught one night without a pass, he decided he had to leave, but couldn't take Lucy because her lame leg would slow them down. Lucy survives the Civil War, working as a laundress and volunteering as a teacher and always wondering about her brother. Many years later, a letter arrives from Albert; he has married, lives in Canada, and is coming to visit. Enclosed is the piece of quilt that Lucy had given him when he left. While the basic story is powerful and touching, the vagueness of the time period is problematic. Dramatic double-paged, impressionistic paintings lack details that would clear up the confusion since they illustrate neither period dress, furnishings, nor style. Due to the mature nature of the material and one particularly disturbing spread of Albert being whipped by the overseer, this is a book for older children. (glossary, afterword) (Picture book. 9-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584300212
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2001
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.68(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile:
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Secret to Freedom 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. The writing style takes the reader into the time and place of the story. Lucy and Albert are real enough to touch. The connection from beginning to end is remarkable. My students have asked me to read it time and time again. It is a treasure.