cover image Overground Railroad

Overground Railroad

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome. Holiday House, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3873-0

Warm portraiture and vivid writing by married collaborators Cline-Ransome and Ransome (Before She Was Harriet) mark this story of a family’s journey north during the Great Migration. Ruthie narrates; she and her Mama and Daddy are leaving the fields of North Carolina for New York City aboard the Silver Meteor: “No more working someone else’s land,” Mama says. When the train crosses from the segregated South into the North, porters tell “everyone in the colored section/ to sit where they want.” Some white passengers put their hands over empty seats, but the three find “smiles/ from new neighbors.” Ransome renders the scenes realistically in bold colors, strong lines, and delicate collage-like patterns. He moves in close to capture Ruthie’s serious gaze and her parents’ gentle exchange. Ruthie’s teacher has given her a copy of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Ruthie is quick to perceive the parallels: “a boy/ leaving behind what he knew/ and heading to what he don’t/ just like me.” The journey is seen through the eyes of richly developed characters drawn with care and sympathy. Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]