Synopses & Reviews
One of School Library Journals Best Nonfiction Books of 2011A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind strangers home. Where are they heading? They are heading for freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.
"With haunting pictures and a few simple sentences, Evans (Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson) introduces beginning readers to a crucial piece of American history. In darkness lit mainly by moonlight, a slave family is seen sneaking away from a plantation, passing a sleeping overseer ('We are quiet'), creeping through shrubbery, and being greeted by a woman in a skirt and cap holding a lantern high ('We make new friends'). The eyes of the slaves shine with doubt and fear. Dense groupings of figures give a sense of immediacy, and rough charcoal lines echo the rugged paths the group travels. Difficult moments are handled with restraint: 'Some don't make it,' one page says, as a man with a rifle holds a defeated-looking slave. The slaves press on; the dawn that breaks around them is a metaphor for freedom. A man cradles a pregnant woman ('We are almost there'), and on the next page, he holds a swaddled newborn up to the shining sun in triumph. Telling the story without overwhelming readers is a delicate task, but Evans walks the line perfectly. Ages 4 8. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Shane W. Evans has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book award winner Shannas Ballerina Show. He attributes much of his influence to his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and much of the United States. He is a firm believer in education and creative development for all people. Underground is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Medal for illustrations.