Synopses & Reviews
A young girl's courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story.
When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger's fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him? Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl and the runaway as they each face a journey: one following the North Star, the other following her heart.
Henry Cole's unusual and original rendering of the Underground Railroad speaks directly to our deepest sense of compassion.
"Cole's (A Nest for Celeste) beautifully detailed pencil drawings on cream-colored paper deftly visualize a family's ruggedly simple lifestyle on a Civil War era homestead, while facing stark, ethical choices. Beginning with an illustration of a star-patterned quilt hanging over a fence (such quilts, Cole writes in his author's note, signified a 'safe house' for runaway slaves), the wordless story follows a girl who becomes aware of someone hiding in the barn. In one scene, she glances nervously over her shoulder at an unexpected noise; the next shows a closeup of cornhusks, a frightened eye peering through; the girl dashes from the barn in terror in a third illustration. After pondering her discovery, she stealthily delivers food wrapped in a checkered napkin on multiple occasions. Household adults are none the wiser, and following a close call with a pair of bounty hunters, the girl returns to the barn and discovers a cornhusk doll, left behind as thanks. Cole conjures significant tension and emotional heft (his silent storytelling calls to mind Brian Selznick's recent work) in this powerful tale of quiet camaraderie and courage. Ages 3 – 7." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“[D]esigned to present youngsters with a moral choice....[T]he author, a former teacher, clearly intended ‘Unspoken’ to be a challenging book, its somber sepia tone drawings establish a mood of foreboding.” New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Henry Cole was born on a dairy farm near Purcellville, Virginia, and was an adored elementary-school science teacher for 16 years. He has since illustrated over 80 popular picture books, including the multimillion-selling Moose series and other bestsellers. Mr. Cole has always loved art and science, which has made him a keen observer of details in nature. He now lives in both Florida and Virginia.