Always Forever Reading’s Rating =
Consisting of ten chapters and 108 pages, this book teaches young readers all about the Underground Railroad. It focuses on the great and many risks that slaves took to gain their freedom. For example, the opening chapter tells readers about Henry Brown’s harrowing escape to freedom in a box. McDonough also explains to readers that the Underground Railroad was not a physical train but an invisible system that helped African American slaves escape the cruel treatment of slavery.
The illustrations in the book reflect the time period in which slaves lived. Instead of using illustrations with color, they are sketches, like what a person would create on a drawing pad. The sketches seem extremely real, and they are clear and easy to view. There are also maps that display the journeys of the Underground Railroad system, free and slave states, territories, and the Middle Passage. Moreover, young readers will learn about the chief crops of slavery.
I also like the inclusion of the photographs, which are great primary documents for the readers to view and/or read to learn more about the Underground Railroad. These pictures consist of slaves, railroad routes through Indiana and Michigan, abolitionists, receipts for purchased slaves, railroad conductors and operators, newspapers, novels, and even wanted signs advertising rewards for captured slaves. These details help readers to understand what life was like for slaves.
Should these young readers ever need to conduct research, write an essay for school, or want to read more about this timeframe, the timeline helps them to keep track of the year(s) that particular events occurred. The bibliography at the end of the book lists more resources that students can read about the Underground Railroad.
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