cover image The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery

Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, illus. by Eric Velasquez. Walker, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8027-2166-2

The Fradins (Zora:! The Life of Zora Neale Hurston) bring into focus an incident that solidified the reputation of Oberlin, Ohio, as a place that welcomed and aided runaway slaves in this detailed picture-book account. In the autumn of 1858, a large group of residents, now known as the Rescuers, defied the Fugitive Slave Law (which made it legal to capture runaway slaves anywhere in the U.S.) and dramatically freed former slave John Price from armed slave hunters. Though the Rescuers were eventually tried as criminals and served jail time, their unwavering belief in freedom for all people helped spark disagreements that led to the Civil War. The narrative reveals the authors’ thorough research, though readers may have some difficulty keeping straight the large cast of characters. Velasquez (My Uncle Martin’s Words for America) sets a tense tone from the outset, with striking, inky paintings of Price’s initial escape under cover of night. His realistic portraits of Price and the townspeople of Oberlin convey powerful emotion and capture the clothing, architecture, and dangers of the era. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)