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Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom Hardcover – January 18, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 1–3—A stellar introduction to the Underground Railroad, narrated by a group of slaves. Readers experience the fugitives' escape, their long nighttime journey punctuated by meetings with friends and enemies, and their final glorious arrival in a place of freedom. Evans boils the raw emotion of the experience down to the most compressed statements, both mirroring the minimal opportunities for expression during the secret journey and also creating a narrative that invites even the youngest listeners to visit this challenging subject. For this reason, the text may be read as is to preschool audiences, while the abbreviated prose may also generate a rich discussion for older students. Evans writes simply: "The darkness..../We are quiet./The fear./We run." Appropriately, the narration is told from a group perspective, which reflects the broader experience of enslaved African Americans—a theme continued in his full-bleed illustrations of figures cloaked in the anonymity of night. Though subdued in palette until the eruption of color as the figures reach the threshold of freedom, the author's collaged nocturnal paintings shimmer with an arresting luminescence. Two constants leap out from almost every page: the stars above and the bright, fearful eyes of the fugitives. When the travelers at last lift a newborn baby to the rising sun, readers celebrate along with the protagonists.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The darkness. / The escape. / We are quiet. / The fear . . . / We run. / We crawl.� With just two or three words on each double-page spread, the minimalist text is intense in this stirring picture book about a family�s escape from slavery. Dramatic, unframed, mixed-media illustrations, rendered in black lines and dark shades of midnight blue, show a child�s view of fleeing and hiding in the night, when the only light is in the starry sky. Then there is the lantern of a safe house, but also of a slave catcher. Finally, freedom comes at last with the glorious color of the sun�s light, and the art extends the wordplay in an image of a joyful family holding up their own son�a baby boy born in freedom. A long appended note offers more historical context, and young readers can go on from here to other picture-book accounts of families torn apart by slavery and those saved by rescuers on the Underground Railroad. Preschool-Grade 3. --Hazel Rochman
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Evans, S. E. (2011). Underground: Finding the light to freedom. New York, NY: Roaring Book Press.
Temple, C., Martinez, M., & Yokota, J. (2011). Children's books in children's hands: An introduction to their literature. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
With its sparse text, this picture book relies more on striking images to communicate to young readers the risks that enslaved people took to escape from bondage, and the joys they experienced upon first reaching a free state. A brief author's note provides more information about the Underground Railroad, which parents and teachers can use to talk with young learners about the history of slavery in the United States.
This would be a great book to introduce young children to the subject of "slavery". The illustrations are very dark in color, as the family begins their escape at night. As the family progresses along their journey toward freedom, the illustrations become brighter in color until the family and the reader can finally see the sun, lifting a baby in the process toward the sky in celebration.
Recommended for Pre-school - grade 3 - (5/5 stars)
With very few words and powerful imagery Evans does a beautiful job portraying
the fear of a family as they sneak through the night in search for freedom. The reader
is taken through the night with this family as they make their journey.
The illustrations throughout the book are very dark until the family reach freedom and see the sun rise again.
This book is ideal for children from pre-k to third grade.
Most recent customer reviews
The darkness of the illustrations, the dawning light. Freedom.