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Way Up and Over Everything Hardcover – March 21, 2008


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Product Details

  • Grade Level: 3 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061838796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618387960
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,749,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1–5—Like Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (Knopf, 2004), this folktale tells the story of slaves who magically slip off the bonds of oppression by simply soaring "way up and over everything." As related by a slave named Jane's great-great granddaughter, it is the tale of five dignified and taciturn new slaves who are taken to a Georgia cotton plantation in 1842. The Africans are given "American" names, but one young man whispers to Jane, "Edet, Edet" as though introducing himself. After a day's brutal work, the newcomers disappear from the eating-time crowd. Dogs are brought out to trail them, and Jane creeps along behind. At the top of a hill, she sees the Africans holding hands, chanting, and whirling in a circle, then stepping into the air, while master and overseer try in vain to stop them. In a dramatic final scene, Edet turns and proudly shouts his African name before flying off "beyond the clouds." Though warned by her master never to share what she has witnessed, Jane, of course, does share. As explained in an afterword, this is a retelling of a "flying story" that has been passed down in the author's family for generations. Written in colloquial language, the tale is enhanced by a spare yet elegant design and delicate folk-art-like watercolor illustrations. Inspiring and informative.—Amy Rowland, Guggenheim Elementary School, Port Washington, NY
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From Booklist

This African American “flying” tale details the miraculous escape of five African slaves from Ol’ Man Deboreaux’s plantation. After a day of toil in the cotton fields, Jane, a 16-year-old slave, notices that the newly arrived Africans are nowhere to be found. When the vicious overseer and the plantation owner set out to find the fugitives, Jane bravely follows and witnesses the Africans taking to the air and soaring over the rolling countryside toward their home across the sea. Jane is warned not to repeat what she has seen, but repeat it she does, as this tale of transcendence and freedom is handed down from generation to generation, until it is finally related to readers by the story’s narrator, Jane’s great-great-granddaughter. Daly’s delicate and elongated figures, small in scale against the vast watercolor landscapes of the Georgia countryside, present a bird’s-eye view of the story and suggest the enormity of such an escape. McGill finishes with a note about the origins and variations of African American flying stories. Grades 2-5. --Kristen McKulski

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Format: Hardcover
Alice McGill's great-grandmama's mama was named Jane. She was a slave on Ol' Man Deboreaux's plantation in Georgia. They called him Ol' Man in private, but when they were working for him they were supposed to call him "master." In 1842 when Jane was sixteen, five more slaves were purchased for the plantation. A large percentage of the slave trade went through Charleston at that time, but Jane wouldn't have known that.

What Jane did know was that there were five new people coming to the plantation. There were two young men and three young women. The overseer wasn't very nice to them and instead of training them, he sent them right to the fields to work very hard. The whip sometimes would pop hard during a work day. It was a very difficult life for a slave. One of the young men tried to tell her that his name was "Edet." At least that is what she thought he was trying to tell her. But then the Africans were missing and the dogs were sent out after them! Legend has it, handed down by Jane's descendants, that they mysteriously floated up into the skies, one by one under the gaze of Jane, the Ol' Man and the cruel overseer. They warned her not to tell or there would be dire consequences.

"But Jane did tell. She told this story when she was a slave living in the quarters and she told it after she and her children escaped to freedom. And her children told this story too." And her great-great-granddaughter is telling it to us and I just loved it! This is a wonderful story to explore the history of slavery and the folklore that sprung up and was handed down through the generations by word of mouth.
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