- Age Range: 3 - 7 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 2
- Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
- Series: Dragonfly Books
- Paperback: 48 pages
- Publisher: Dragonfly Books; Reprint edition (January 15, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679819975
- ISBN-13: 978-0679819974
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.2 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Follow the Drinking Gourd (Dragonfly Books) Paperback – January 15, 1992
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2-- Winter's picture book relates the story of an old white sailor called "Peg Leg Joe" who went from plantation to plantation in the pre-Civil War south, teaching enslaved blacks a folksong that he wrote, the lyrics of which held directions for following the Underground Railroad to freedom. This particular story focuses on the journey of one group of runaways who travel according to the directions of the song to reach the Ohio River, where Peg Leg Joe himself is waiting with a boat. Dramatic full-color paintings and a simple text make this part of U.S. history accessible to young readers. However, its emphasis on the role that white people played in the black flight to freedom make it an unbalanced introduction. "Joe had a plan" appears repeatedly in the text, making it sound as though the idea of escape and freedom originated with him, rather than with the people who were living the horror of slavery. Throughout the story, the people who are escaping are depicted as being wholly dependent on the elements and on the actions of benevolent whites, rather than on their own thoughts, ideas, and decisions. This notion is reinforced in picture after picture, as the faces of the five blacks are wide-eyed with fear while they look for the next sign from Joe to tell them what to do. They never show the expressions of courage and determination that mark the faces of the white characters in this book. Follow the Drinking Gourd is aptly titled in that it presents a history of black Americans as followers, rather than as leaders. --Kathleen T. Horning, Madison Public Library, Wis.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A fine rendering of history in picture book format.”–Booklist, Starred
“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
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Top Customer Reviews
by Jeanette Winter
a great story of following directions.. if you look at its simplest form.
Looking through the lenses of history this book has a lot of appeal, it brings to the for front the movement of the underground rail road and makes it into a story of a single family. This book is a great jumping point for looking into history. The song and the lyrics are a way to connect to the youngest of students. I used this in a second grade classroom for connections to Black/ African American history. We focused not only on the song but on the idea of freedom and dreams. This was the end of the unit, the children were asked to write a poem or song telling their steps to their dreams. They did learn a little of history along the way, and were able to understand the historical figures within this book.
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
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