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True North: A Novel of the Underground Railroad Hardcover – May 1, 1996


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Hardcover, May 1, 1996
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590205234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590205238
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,107,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lasky (The Night Journey) again combines suspenseful fiction with history as she intersects the lives of two 19th-century adolescent girls: Afrika, a run-away slave from a Virginia plantation, and Lucy, a restless young socialite from Boston. While Afrika travels the Underground Railroad, dodging slave catchers and their hounds, Lucy prepares for her sister's upcoming wedding to a prominent New Yorker even though she would rather be helping her grandfather with his abolitionist efforts. The paths of the two girls converge when Lucy discovers Afrika hiding in her grandfather's house after "Pap" has died from a stroke. Together, the two girls embark on a dangerous journey to the Canadian border. Both Afrika and Lucy are, from the beginning, admirable, likable heroines, but the true colors of other characters are not revealed until long after the girls' daring trip. Lasky clearly illustrates the tyranny of slave masters, the support of slave labor in the North, the restrictions placed on 19th-century women and the philosophies of such revolutionaries as Robert Gould Shaw, Abigail Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson (each of whom plays a minor role in this riveting drama). Telling her story with sensitivity and flair, the author amply fulfills the goal she states in an afterword: to write "within the structures of logic and judicious imagination." Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-An excellent work of historical fiction, carefully researched and poignantly told. In Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp in 1858, 14-year-old Afrika defies Harriet Tubman and chooses to stay with her dying newborn baby while the others continue to travel north. Afterwards, she resumes her flight from slavery to freedom alone. Meanwhile, Lucy Bradford of Boston finds the hoopla surrounding her older sister's wedding a total bore. She looks for some excitement and finds more than she bargained for when she discovers the young slave hiding in her grandfather's house. Suddenly, Lucy's predictable life is turned upside down as she helps the girl continue north. After Afrika reaches the safety of Canada and Lucy returns home, the two write to one another regularly. Finally, five decades later, Lucy welcomes Afrika to her Boston home. The two main characters are resilient, appealing, and complex. As the story switches back and forth from one to the other, the inevitability of their encounter and readers' curiosity about the circumstances under which this meeting will occur create a page-turning scenario. The grim realities of slavery are unforgettably revealed through Afrika, and the contrast between her life and Lucy's is starkly and effectively conveyed. The detailed settings add to the authenticity of the telling. Young people who have enjoyed Jennifer Armstrong's Steal Away (Orchard, 1992) will find Lasky's novel another thought-provoking look at this tumultuous period in U.S. history.
Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Hi Readers! Thanks for coming by my author page. I've written all sorts of books - from fantasy about animals to books about science. One of my favorite animal fantasy series, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, is a major motion picture. I liked writing about Ga'Hoole so much that I decided to revisit that world in a different series, Wolves of the Beyond. I've recently added a new Guardians book: The Rise of A Legend, the story of Ezylryb, the great sage of the Ga'Hoole Tree. Another new book just came out, the first in the Horses of the Dawn series. I think of it as an equine retelling of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Visit my website, www.kathrynlasky.com for the latest news. All my best, Kathryn

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I teach seventh and eighth grade English and searched far and wide for a good novel about cultures. This book has characters my students could relate to and enough action to keep them hooked. It contrasts the lives of two girls, one escaping slavery and the other escaping the "rules" of the upper-class. What was best, though, are the issues raised that sparked discussion, including ethics, civil disobedience, and taking risks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elena on April 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
A well-written story about the underground railroad,"True North" is about a young, witty fourteen-year old, Lucy, and her grandfather. The story takes place in 19th century America at the height of the aboloitionists and slave disputes. Lucy is a wealthy girl raised in Massachusetts. She is very much different than her four other sisters. Lucy is not at all interested in getting dressed up and going to parties, but would rather learn from her grandfather about the human body or birds. She does not know very much about slavery, only that her parents do not agree on whether it is right or wrong. Her mother was raised in the south, and her father in the north. Lucy is very close to her grandfather, who is a doctor. She feels that she knows him very well. However, as time passes, Lucy cracks his codes and finds out that he is a conductor and stationmaster in the underground railroad. He lets her go with him on one of his adventures, and Lucy is glad to be a part of it. After his passing, Lucy finds herself in a situation where she must help 14-year-old runaway slave, Afrika. A friendship develops throughout the story between the two girls and each learns an important lesson about human kindness. This story depicts this time in America very well. I would suggest this book to anyone who does not know about slavery in America during this time. It would be a great book to use as early as fifth grade. It shows the sad history of our country and slavery, and why there was so much hatred between the two races during this time. Kathryn Lasky does a great job of developing a fictional story with many interwoven facts throughout it. It is the perfect way to get the facts across while making the story interesting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book was exciting and kept my attention throughout the entire story. The comparison of life in the highest social class at that time and slavery was equally amazing and sad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It is about two girls, one Afrika is running away from the plantation she works at in Virginia, and the other girl, Lucy is a wealthy girl in Boston who` s best friend is her grandfather. In the story Lucy finds out that her grandfather halps with the Underground Railroud. After her grandfather dies she finds Afrika in the grandfather clock in her grandfathers office. She helps Afrika the rest of the way to freedom even though it is hard and they run into some road blocks. I liked this book because it helps you to understand how it was like for people back then. I loved this book and I would deffinetely suggest it to someone else to read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book there are two main characters. They are Lucy and Afrika. Afrika is a slave who is running away to the north. Lucy is a wealthy girl who lives in Boston. After Lucy's Grandfather dies she finds Afrika in a closet in her grandfather's house. It turns out he worked for an organization that helped slaves escape from the south. Now Lucy has to help Afrika get to freedom. This book is entertaining and gives you and idea of two very different people's lives. I highly recomened this book, especially for girls because it is about two girls.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
"True North."

by Kathryn Lasky

Have you ever wondered why you are reading that certain book? Have you ever thought that the books you were reading had no point, and were extremely boring? I myself have experienced those feelings on many books. That's not true about "True North". I had to read a Civil War book for my English class. I thought this would be a stupid book and I shouldn't even waste my time reading it. I took a chance and read a few chapters. It wasn't amazing- and yet it was actually pretty good. This book is all about two girls during the Civil War. One of them is a black slave trying to get free, and the other is a rich white girl who hates her life of luxury. They are both running away from their lives to find a better way of living. That is pretty much the only thing they have in common. "True North" is all about the struggles these girls face for freedom. It has a good message about love, friendship, hard work, and determination. "True North" is a fast read with an adventure, no kissing, but I guess there could be crying, (depending on the person). I didn't think this book was the best book I ever read. It is the kind of book you read for a class or if you need to write a paper. Who knows though, maybe this will be your favorite book. I can say this about "True North". I didn't regret reading it, and I know you won't either. Go pick up a copy at your local library or ask your English teacher if they have this book. Everyone has to read, and this book is a lot better than those kissing, boring, books. What are you waiting for? Read, "True North" by Kathryn Lasky. I know you want to!

Review by Danaca Moore

Lehi, UT.
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