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Trouble Don't Last Paperback – December 9, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; English Language edition (December 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440418119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440418115
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This action-packed, tautly plotted first novel presents a quest for freedom on the Underground Railroad that realistically blends kindness and cruelty. "Trouble follows me like a shadow," begins 11-year-old narrator Samuel. When Harrison, one of the elderly slaves who raised him after the master sold off the boy's mother, decides to run away, Samuel must go with him. "Truth is," Samuel confesses, "even the thought of going straight to Hell didn't scare me as much as the thought of running away." His fears prove justified. Samuel and Harrison's journey thrusts them into uncertainty and peril, and introduces an imaginatively and poignantly rendered cast. Characters include a black man who helps them cross the Ohio River, all the while threatening them with a pistol and a knife if they don't do exactly as he says (he abandons a less cooperative fugitive to certain capture) and a creepy young white widow who converses with her husband's ghost. Throughout, Pearsall seamlessly refers to Samuel's and Harrison's hardships under slavery, creating a sense of lives that extend past the confines of the book. This memorable portrayal of their haphazard, serendipitous and dangerous escape to freedom proves gripping from beginning to end, Ages 9-12.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Strong characters and an inventive, suspenseful plot distinguish Pearsall's first novel, a story of the Underground Railroad in 1859. Samuel, the 11-year-old slave who narrates the story, is awakened by 70-year-old Harrison, who has decided to flee their tyrannical Kentucky master. The questions that immediately flood the boy's mind provide the tension that propels the novel: What has precipitated the old man's sudden desire for freedom? Why would he risk taking Samuel along? Harrison is mindful of the dangers and wary of trusting even the strangers who might offer help. Samuel, an impulsive boy who seems prone to trouble, is grudgingly accustomed to his life of servitude and reluctant to leave it. As days of hiding and nights of stealthy movement take them farther away from their former lives, Harrison and Samuel forge a bond that strengthens their resolve. Faith, luck, and perseverance see the man and boy safely into Canada, where a new journey-one of self-discovery and self-healing-begins. Pearsall's extensive research is deftly woven into each scene, providing insight into plantation life, 19th-century social mores, religious and cultural norms, and the political turmoil in the years preceding the Civil War. Samuel's narrative preserves the dialect, the innocence, the hope, and even the superstitions of slaves like Harrison and himself, whose path to freedom is filled with kindness and compassion as well as humiliation and scorn. This is a compelling story that will expand young readers' understanding of the Underground Railroad and the individual acts of courage it embraced.
William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Shelley Pearsall grew up in the blue-collar Cleveland suburb of Parma where she began writing stories in her bedroom closet as a child. She sent her first story to a New York publishing house at the age of thirteen. Although the manuscript was never published, its themes of survival and freedom ultimately became the inspiration for Pearsall's first published novel, TROUBLE DON'T LAST, written twenty years later.

In 2003, TROUBLE DON'T LAST received the prestigious Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction among other honors. Pearsall's first contemporary novel ALL OF THE ABOVE was a 2007 ALA Notable book. Her books have received starred reviews and have been named Booklist Editor's Choice, New York Public Library Top 100, VOYA Top Shelf, Junior Library Guild, and have been nominated for numerous state reading award lists. In 2005, Pearsall was the Children's Writer-in-Residence for the James Thurber House.
Before becoming a full-time author, Shelley Pearsall was an intermediate and middle school teacher. She has also tried many unusual jobs over the years, including a Revolutionary War shipwreck archaeology project, working in an 18th century shoemaker shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and performing Great Lakes stories on an ore boat. Although she no longer works as a classroom teacher, she is a frequent guest author in elementary and middle schools where she does presentations and leads writing workshops on everything from Elvis to shoes.
Shelley Pearsall lives in Silver Lake, Ohio with her husband Mike, stepson Ethan, and a senior-citizen cat named Marbles.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I have read numerous books about runaway slaves, but this one has been by far the best.
Julia Kent
There were surprises and twists that were incredibly cleaver and seamlessly interwoven into the plot.
Dawn De Lorenzo
This book will grab your attention, and will take you on the adventure with Samuel and Harrison.
Jennifer Pannullo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By BookBuzz on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In her author's notes, Shelly Pearsall states that, while the Underground Railroad is a familiar American story, the real heroes of the story, the slaves themselves, are often left in the background. She wanted to write a book that would present the harrowing flight to freedom from the slave's point-of-view. She wanted to ask, "What did they think and feel... What was the journey like? Whom did the runaways trust and whom did they fear?" She succeeded brilliantly.
She chose as her narrator a former slave named Samuel, who recounts his unwilling trek to "CANADAY" as a boy of eleven. Young Samuel was ignorant of anything beyond his experience on his master's farm. Not allowed to read by his masters and kept in his place by the two aging slaves, Lilly and Harrison, who raised him after his mother was sold. Samuel is ignorant and, consequently, fearful. When a fleeing Harrison whisks him off in the middle of the night, Samuel doesn't know what to think. Samuel sees a threat in every shadow and every step he takes is a step further away from the only life he's known. His only desire is to stay out of trouble.
In choosing the adult Samuel as her storyteller, Ms. Pearsall has created a voice that is at once educated and naive. SamuelÃ*s perception of the journey and the people he encounters is the heart of the book�most importantly, his portrayal of the crotchety, perhaps senile, old slave Harrison. The book has an almost Huckelberry Finn quality to it, mostly because of its episodic nature and the variety of "characters" the duo meet on their journey.
For better or worse, the author has toned down the language and dialect of the period keeping the words and dialog well within today's politically acceptable range.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Running and hiding, running and hiding. That is only the beginning of what happens to two classic characters in the award wining novel Trouble Don't Last. This book was written by Shelley Pearsall and published by Random House Children's Books. Trouble Don't Last is on the ALA booklist and Shelley was awarded the Scott O'Dell award. Shelley's writing will captivate you right from the beginning. This is Shelley Pearsall's first book and I hope it's not her last. Every chapter is a non-stop read that will keep you full of suspense and wonder. I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

Trouble Don't Last is a great story that teaches you about the Underground Railroad. The two main characters are Samuel who's around 11 years old and Harrison who's in his sixties. Samuel and Harrison are two hard working slaves that work for Master Hackler. One night Harrison crept near Samuel's sleeping corner in the kitchen and whisked him away on the Underground Railroad. They discovered many different people like Lucy Taylor who is convinced her husband is still alive and Green Murdock who's a clever white peddler. Once Harrison and Samuel think the end of their journey is near, Harrison gets a horrible fever that delays their trip. Will their journey be successful? Will they get caught by white patrollers or will they have to back track home to their master?

Samuel and Harrison's personalities are very, very different. They disagree a lot in the book and don't want each other's company. Samuel is very stubborn on his trip to Canada and thinks they should go home, even if it means being whipped. Luckily for Samuel, Harrison pushes him to keep going and to make wise decisions. On occasion Harrison can be just as pig headed as Samuel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book and plan to use it in my middle-school classroom next year. It seems a rarity in underground railroad fiction that the narrative is told from the slave's point of view instead of the all-too-common "benevolent white helper family." I think some of my reluctant readers will enjoy this book as the action is fast-paced and each chapter ends at a moment of suspense; students will want to keep reading to find out what happens to Samuel and Harrison, and I anticipate hearing "just one more chapter" more often than not as we read through this educational and engaging book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This great book about Samuel and Harrison and their suspenseful journey to freedom in Canada has been awarded the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for 2003! A well-deserved award for an exiting book that readers, young and old, will love.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Terry Nightingale on June 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Originally, I picked up this book because my daughter had read it and had recommended it. Once I started reading, though, I was sucked in by the realistic characters and the suspenseful story. This is not just a book for kids. "Trouble Don't Last" was not only an exciting adventure story, but I learned quite a bit about what life must have been like for runaway slaves in the 19th century.

Like most people, I learned about slavery and the underground railroad in school, and had always felt like I had a good understanding of that period in US history. But unlike a high school textbook, this story made it easy to put myself in Samuel's place and see things from his perspective. What would it be like to grow up never having seen the world outside my master's plantation? What would it be like to be on the run, never able to truly rest, always worried about being caught?

Shelley Pearsall has written an excellent book that explores these and other issues, all the while keeping us on the edge of our seats. From beginning to end, I could never be sure what would happen next. The style in which the story is told conveys well the feeling of helplessness that so many slaves must have felt. The reality of being out of control of your own destiny, knowing that at any time your life could change for the worst and there was little or nothing you could do about it, must have been an extremely difficult problem to deal with emotionally. In the book we see the ways different characters cope with their oppression, and can't help wondering what we would do if forced to deal with a similar situation.

Anyone who wants to gain a more personal understanding of an important, unfortunate period in the history of the United States should read "Trouble Don't Last."
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