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Follow the Drinking Gourd (Dragonfly Books) Paperback – January 15, 1992
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From School Library Journal
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“An extraordinary and inspiring tribute to a unique part of African-American
“The artist’s hauntingly muted pictures propel the story forward and make
it memorable.”–Washington Post Book World
Top Customer Reviews
The book introduces the idea of slavery, the separation of families, the sale of human beings at auctions, and the difficulties that people endured to escape--hiding in trees to avoid hounds, sleeping by day, sometimes on empty stomachs, and walking at night, sometimes without stars to guide them. Sometimes people along the way were kind, providing bacon and corn bread to share, helping them across the Ohio River, and hiding them in the attics and barns of safe houses.
The story's dramatic simplicity grasps and holds children. They fasten to it, eager to learn about the bonds that once tied African-Americans and the freedom for which they naturally yearned.
The book is a song of freedom.
---Alyssa A. Lappen
My reservation with this version is with the introductions and post-story explanations describing Peg Leg Joe as a truly historical figure whom really taught slaves the Follow the Drinking Gourd song and, ultimately, became their link to freedom. I assumed the information to be true as published. Further study, however, showed me that the story behind Follow the Drinking Gourd is most likely not fact, but an American Folk Tale used as a "representation" of how escaping to freedom might have happened. I could not find proof that Peg Leg Joe was a real Underground Railroad agent or conductor, and I also came to find that the lyrics to Follow the Drinking Gourd (as printed in the book) were rewritten by another folk artist to include the chorus, "The old man is a-waitin' for to carry you to freedom if you follow the drinking gourd" some 80+ years after the song was originally written or communicated.
All-in-all, great literature, illustrations that capture the intensity of escaping to freedom, and a "secret code." What more can a kid (or big kid, in my case) ask for?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a beautifully illustrated book with the well-known song. We study this song in the fourth grade at our school and the kids really enjoyed the story and pictures.Published 2 months ago by Pamela Wilson
This is a very accessible book about the underground railroad and one of the spirituals that describe one of its paths.Published 2 months ago by Marilyn W. Reppert
It lost my interest quickly. Did not have good plot or story. I'm glad it was so short or I wouldn't have finished it.Published 3 months ago by James R. Walter
I used to this book when I was a kid and now I wanted to share it with my daughter .Published 6 months ago by andrelle mondesir
I love this story as a supplement my elementary music curriculum when teaching students about code songs and how slaves found ways to escape via the Underground Railroad. Read morePublished 7 months ago by patriemartin
Excellent book and beautiful illustrations. Used it for a third grade lesson plan and the students loved it!Published 14 months ago by ram