Monday, August 31, 2009

Night Boat to Freedom

Night Boat to Freedom

Written by: Margot Theis Raven
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Elementary Grades

"Drawing on accounts in the Slave Narrative Collection, compiled during the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project, Raven presents her story from the viewpoint of Christmas John, 12, born on Christmas morning and raised on a Kentucky plantation by Granny Judith, who was captured as a child in Africa. One night Granny Judith asks him to row a young slave across the river to freedom in Ohio. Christmas John is scared, but he helps the slave and many others escape.

Finally, it becomes too dangerous for him to stay on the plantation. Granny Judith wants him to leave, but how can he leave her behind? The older mentor is as tough as the young boy, and Lewis' beautiful, unframed double-page spreads depict the bond between them, including their heartbreaking farewell embrace. The close-ups filled with the richly colored details of Granny Judith's dyed quilts are in stark contrast to the pictures of the night sky and black water, and the shadows of the runaways in the woods. Words and pictures work perfectly together, making sound from silence and light from darkness."

Booklist Review

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