Voices from the Underground Railroad

Kay Winters, illus. by Larry Day. Dial, $18.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4092-1
In this companion to Colonial Voices and Voices from the Oregon Trail, Jeb and Mattie, two enslaved siblings in 1861 Maryland, are determined not to be “sold South” as their mother was. “Ain’t gonna happen,” says Ben. “Not to me. Not to Mattie./ Not gonna be sold like a pig or a plow./ We gotta run.” Helped by members of the Underground Railroad and pursued by bounty hunters emboldened by the Fugitive Slave Act, they travel up the Eastern seaboard to New Bedford, Mass., a city famous for its resistance to slavery. Winters chronicles their journey in a series of monologues from every player in the story, taking pains to reflect the latest scholarship on the Underground Railroad (which is further explained in the thoughtful afterword). Jeb and Mattie’s courage is front and center, and the movement is portrayed as encompassing both white helpers and free black people. The framing choices in Day’s warm, textured paintings sometimes blunt the emotional urgency in Jeb and Mattie’s flight, but readers will come away with a better understanding of the horror and hope that drove people to risk everything for freedom. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017
Release date: 01/09/2018
Genre: Children's
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