cover image Running for Our Lives

Running for Our Lives

Glennette Tilley Turner. Holiday House, $16.95 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1121-4

At the Freeman family reunion in Canada, 101-year-old Luther tells his grandchildren about 1855, the year he and his enslaved family escaped from a Missouri plantation and began an arduous journey to freedom. After hiking through chilly, desolate woods and crossing the freezing Mississippi River at night, Luther and his younger sister are separated from their parents at the advice of well-meaning abolitionists, but the danger multiplies when ``notorious slave kidnapper Mose Twist'' starts searching for them. Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Alan Pinkerton feature in the story, which Turner, in an author's note, describes as ``a glimpse of the turbulent times that preceded the Civil War.'' Although the book contains numerous facts in a dramatic setting, it never quite overcomes a didactic tone and the developments seem more strung together than organic. For an exceptionally strong treatment of the same themes, see Mary Stolz's Cezanne Pinto (Children's Forecasts, Jan. 10). Ages 8-12. (Apr.)