From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-A book that is part novel, part history lesson, and part activity guide. Surprisingly, Greenwood succeeds on all counts. The story revolves around a Canadian family's participation in the Underground Railroad in 1856. Johanna Reid, 12, must live with Eliza, an escaped slave, as Eliza waits to be reunited with her mother and brother, who did not make it to the safety of the Reids' home. Johanna learns to cope with her own prejudices as she comes to see Eliza as a friend. Interspersed with the girls' story of friendship are brief descriptions of life on a plantation and the Underground Railroad: how it worked, who risked their lives to escape or help others flee, and who profited from catching a fugitive slave. The information is often specific to Canada, but readers in the U.S. will not find the book unbalanced. The activities include songs and storytelling as well as directions for making a cornhusk doll, a lantern for a window (a signal on the Underground Railroad), and gingerbread cookies. Sepia drawings appear on almost every page, giving the book an open look. There is a rather paltry index considering the amount of information relayed. Teachers looking for ideas for a unit on the Underground Railroad and children who are looking for a briefer alternative to novels such as Kathryn Lasky's True North (Scholastic, 1996) will find what they want here.Carol Fazioli, The Brearley School, New York City, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
paper 1-55074-509-3 In short chapters, the story of fictional escaped slave Eliza Jackson and her family unfold, paralleling the effect on and courage of Canadian Johanna Reid and her family, who hide Eliza and her brother Ben until they can safel y reunite with their mother. The narrative introduces the points of view of Johanna, who must cope with the changes the ``midnight visitors'' bring, and Eliza and Ben, who recount their adventures traveling north to Canada from Virginia. Smoothly sandwich ed in are maps, drawings, and factual passages that give background details of the time, such as life on Southern plantations, profiles of important figures in the history of abolitionism, and activities, which nicely break up the information. The clean, approachable design presents all of these elements in a clear, organized manner and the black-and-white illustrations complement both fictional and historical elements. While no more dramatic or emotional than entries in the American Girls series, the boo k authentically examines the people and logistics of the Underground Railroad in an accessible and unusual way. (glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.