Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Black History Month: Almost to Freedom

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson has crafted an extraordinary picture book about the Underground Railroad...and Colin Bootman's oil painting illustrations add depth to the story.

The most intriguing thing about this book is that it is told from the point of view of the rag doll owned by Lindy.

                I started out no more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation.

The rag doll goes everywhere with Lindy...even the cotton fields.

This picture book would definitely need to be a read aloud because of the Southern dialect and words from that time period.

        ...and she hug me so hard I think my insides'll bust out of my seams.

The story is a hard one to read as it is realistic about what happened when slaves disobeyed.

                  One day Lindy gets whipped by the overseer. She didn't 
                  do nothin' but ask Mass's son how to spell her name.

The story of their escape along the Underground Railroad will keep you and your students on the edge of your seats. And the ending was not what I expected...

The story provides opportunities to teach various writing techniques.

              Branches slap us along the way like they scolding', warning'
              us to go back.

             It's dead quiet 'kept for the sound of the boatman pushin',
             pushin', pushin' his oars.

             The loneliness swallows me up.

This book is a factionalized account of the Underground Railroad, but it could certainly be true. I hope you are able to use it with your students.

Teacher Resources:

Louisiana State Library

Dayton Public Schools