cover image A Place Called Freedom

A Place Called Freedom

Scott Russell Sanders. Atheneum Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80470-0

In a lyrical intertwining of fact and fiction, Sanders (Aurora Means Dawn) spotlights a sliver of American history: the founding of an Indiana village by former slaves in the mid-19th century. The concise and eloquent story is narrated by the son of the inaugural settlers, who was seven when his newly freed family traveled north from Tennessee in 1832. He recounts their long journey on foot, when, night after night, ""the buttery bowl of the moon filled up, then emptied again."" As his father returns repeatedly to the South to fetch ""more of the folks we loved"" and as other African Americans--freemen as well as runaway slaves--hear of the community, it blossoms into a village named Freedom. The blue and beige shades of Allen's (The Days Before Now) sketchy pastels, which often combine finished faces with barely delineated clothing and backgrounds, show the townsfolk at work and the village enlarging. Simple, unframed images emerging from stark white backgrounds, coupled with a typeface that mimics hand-lettering, create an inviting sense of the historical made personal. Ages 5-8. (June)