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The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad (I Can Read Level 3) Paperback – September 7, 1983

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3–This classic story (HarperCollins, 1993), written by F. N. Monjo and illustrated by Fred Brenner, tells how Tommy Fuller, a Quaker boy, discovers and assists runaway slaves who were being helped by his father, a conductor of the Underground Railroad. Conversations between Tommy and his father address slaves as property, the Fugitive Slave Law, obeying laws, and trying to change laws. Patrick Collins's narration is well-paced and expressive, employing voice changes for the characters. Sound effects add to the telling. At the beginning of the story, the song “The Drinking Gourd” tells of following the Big Dipper to Canada and to freedom. Page-turn signals are optional. This audiobook offers a good introduction to introduce units on slavery and the Civil War.Ann Elders, Mark Twain Elementary School, Federal Way, WA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

The stars of the Big Dipper have led a runaway slave family to Deacon Fuller's house, a stop on the underground railroad. Will Tommy Fuller be able to hide the runaways from a search party -- or will the secret passengers be discovered and their hope for freedom destroyed?

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 370L (What's this?)
  • Series: I Can Read Level 3
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (September 7, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064440427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064440424
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This tale of the underground railroad told from the perspective of young, mischievious Tommy Fuller, blends history with a compelling adventure story. Tommy discovers a runaway slave family hiding in his father's barn. Little Jeff is Tommy's age but has had a very different life as a Southern child of slavery. The adventure is how Tommy and his father, Deacon Fuller, help this family escape to Canada and freedom. Includes a simple discussion between Tommy and his father about the fact that they have broken a law and that sometimes laws cannot be obeyed.
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Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I remember this from my childhood in the 80s, and my 4 year old loved it the first time I read it to him. He's mentioned it often and brings up concepts from this book (slavery, going to Canada to be free) multiple time. I liked it so much from the library that I bought it by Amazon to have on my shelf.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book after reading a simple biography about Harriet Tubman and watching some U-Tubes about the folk song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" with an adult literacy class. Wonderful!! This book would be wonderful for children with background info from teachers or parents. This is a gem!
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Format: Paperback
This book is beautifully written, and it made a big impression on me as a child for why it's important to be involved in the important things in life. It also impressed upon me that social and justice issues aren't about the grandness of arguments--they're about the lives of people who are at the center of debates (although I certainly wouldn't have articulated it at the time).

I like it so much that I bought it now even though I don't have any kids because I want my future children to be able to experience it. These are the kinds of books that help children to have a broad view of the world.
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Format: Paperback
You can make history into a fun topic for kids if you use the right book. "The Drinking Gourd" really pulls the reader into the story because the protagonist, like the reader, is just a kid! It's a first-person account of the Underground Railroad, seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old. The average kid isn't terribly interested in the adventures of a 40-year-old, and there's no shortage of books about the adults who built this country. But there are few national heroes that were kids. So why not just insert a kid into the story?

I read this book in the 1980's, when I was in 3rd grade. I loved it, not because I cared about the history, but because the hero of the book does what a kid my age would do. I didn't feel envious of him, because he doesn't do anything I wouldn't get to do. He's also not savvy; he learns about the Underground Railroad from a young slave who says "shucks, you don't know anything."

There are many books like these, where a child protagonist is inserted into a story about the Mayflower, the American Revolution, The Civil War, Westward Expansion, The Gold Rush, The Depression, Etc.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While studying Black History Month this book is amazing with the rich illustrations and the historical facts. The children loved when I read it to them.
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A Kid's Review on November 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is about a boy named Tommy which does very funny things. He saves black men from becoming slaves. I enjoyed reading this book because it was very exciting and it taught me about the underground railroad and slaves. By James -age 8
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