Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad 

Written by Natalie Hyde 

Crabtree Publishing, 2015, Ages: 9-14

This book covers information regarding the Underground Railroad's history, and the people involved, such as slaves, slave hunters, and those who helped slaves to freedom, like Harriet Tubman. In addition to history, it also talks about the danger and success stories of the Underground Railroad and the people involved. Another topic that is covered in the text are the primary sources of information:  written, visual, and auditory. They described the different ways these techniques were used to advertise slaves, and how slaves knew when they had their opportunity to escape. Since there are two very different groups that participated in this time period, the book talks about interpreting the evidence that was left behind and the dangers of bias. With many opinions about this point in history, there is discussion about the controversial role of hymns and songs that were sung during this time. And finally, the topic at the end of the book talks about how history is repeating itself, and discusses slavery (now known as human trafficking) and what is being done in order to stop it. 

The author's writing style is very informative and straight forward, which would come in handy for students who are using this book as a resource for a project. The author is clear about showing no bias from her perspective, which is important when discussing a topic such as slavery. The author has also written many questions for the reader to ask themselves, such as "Are fictional stories written about events of the Underground Railroad primary sources or secondary sources?" The writer also does a good job of explaining words that the reader may not understand; this is important for adolescents who are working on their reading skills to become more fluent in their reading. 

The illustrations vary from paintings, prints, blueprints, documents, newspaper clippings, and even photographs. Another component that I found interesting was that the author described how some of the illustrations were created. An example of this is on page 13. On the bottom of the page, it looks like an average painting, but the text explains that the image is actually an engraving. An engraving is a print that was made using a carved pattern in a metal printing plate. 

I believe that this book is an excellent source for students and teachers alike to learn about this time period. I would definitely recommend this book to others who have an interest in the Underground Railroad. It offers readers many illustrations to help those who are visual learners, and there is text next to the pictures to explain what is being shown. But what I found very beneficial is that at the end of the book, there are many different sources the reader could use if they were doing research. In the back of the book, the following is provided: Timeline, Internet Guidelines, and a glossary. I feel that these components are very important because they help the reader better understand the content that is being provided by the author. Overall, I think that this is a great book, and this would be an interesting read for students ranging from the ages 9-14. 

Review by Evelyn Wilkins 

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