The stories of slaves who fled the South in search of freedom are some of the most riveting in American history. The fugitives usually left at night, with little or no food or money and only the light of the North Star to guide them. Gathered here are twelve stirring stories of escape, including those of Henry "Box" Brown, Ellen and William Craft, and Harriet Tubman, along with less well known but equally compelling accounts of Mary Prince, Eliza Harris, Margaret Garner, John Anderson, Solomon Northrup, and others. Accompanied by striking archival prints and photographs, these thought-provoking narratives vividly depict the horrors of slavery and the high value of freedom, and are a testimony to the tenacity of the human spirit. Bibliography, index.
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Dennis Brindell Fradin is the author of many books for young readers, including the well-received SAMUEL ADAMS: THE FATHER OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE and, with coauthor and wife Judith Bloom Fradin, IDA B. WELLS: MOTHER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.From Publishers Weekly:
Adhering closely to the facts, often using primary source quotes, Fradin (Ida B. Wells) delivers 12 riveting accounts of daring escapes from slavery. Fradin illustrates a broad spectrum of flights, beginning with two accountsDfrom Mary Prince and from Fed (later known as John Brown)Dwho escaped to Britain, thus conveying to readers that England banned slavery prior to the U.S. and demonstrating how Prince acted as a catalyst in the British antislavery movement. Though some readers may be familiar with the escape attempts of Eliza Harris (the model for Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Margaret Garner (the inspiration for Toni Morrison's Beloved), Fradin discusses the two women and their children in the same chapter and highlights their vastly different fates. He also includes 15-year-old Ann Maria Weems, one of the few children to attempt escape alone, and Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The narrative focuses on the emotional realities and risks, enabling readers to feel the claustrophobia of Henry "Box" Brown's 26-hour escape from Richmond to Philadelphia inside a cramped box and carted by train as a shipment of shoes. The heroism of both black and white Underground Railroad operators shines through, especially in the memorable Oberlin-Wellington rescue in which the abolitionist town defied slave catchers and the Federal Fugitive Slave Law to save a runaway, and two chapters in which Levi ("nicknamed the President of the underground Railroad") and Katie Coffin figure prominently. Archival photographs and illustrations contribute to the historical accuracy of the stories but the design, unfortunately, looks institutional. Luckily, the attractive cover, a photograph of a square from the Underground Railroad Quilt made by Oberlin residents, will lure readers to the volume. Fradin makes liberal reference to the freed African-Americans' own accounts and will likely send many readers on to further volumes. Ages 11-up. (Oct.)
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