Morning Star

MorningStarCover.inddMorning Star

Judith Paxton, Author

Second Story Press, Fiction, September 2011

Suitable for Ages:  Grades 4-6

Themes: Slavery, Underground Railroad, Racism, African-American

Opening/Synopsis“Flower Felt fingers press down on her mouth, gentle but firm.  She struggled awake to see her mother lift them away, touch one against her own lips, eyes wide with silent warning.”   Twelve-year-old Flower, her baby brother and her parents live on a southern slave plantation.  In the middle of the night they flee for their lives following the Underground Railroad north to Canada.  Their only guide is the North Star and very kind people who help them along their journey.  Bounty hunters are in hot pursuit of her family.  Their journey is threatened by danger, illness, injuries, and hunger.

In a parallel story over 150 years later, we meet eighth-grader Felicia, who has moved from Toronto with her mother and grandmother to a small town in Michigan.  Felicia soon discovers she is among the few African-American students in the school.  She makes friends with a group of girls who introduce her to horseback riding and a drama class.   But, she also has to deal with some racism for the first time in her life.  When the teacher assigns the class to research their ancestry, Felicia discovers that her distant family members were slaves who followed the Underground Railroad to Canada.   She also learns about a community of free slaves living in her new town of Plainsville, MI.  Does she have the courage to share her family history with her class?

What I like about this book:  Judith Paxton has written a compelling and memorable story for young people where she interweaves the lives of two very different girls living 150 years apart.  Their stories are told in alternating chapters.  You will feel the strength and courage of both Flower and Felicia dealing with racism in different ways.  Their past and present paths will cross in an unlikely way.  Readers will easily identify with both engaging characters.  Each chapter is a page turner and the story is full of suspense.  This is a satisfying story for younger readers and a great read for Black History Month.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Morning Star

  1. I love the sound of how the author treated the different decades in racism with girls same age but different century.

    Is this a middle grade novel? It sounds like it when you say the ages are grades four to six.

    This is a great pick for African-American week. 🙂

  2. This is a unique book. It reminds me me a bit of “Wonderstruck”, where the pictures tell a young girl’s story from long ago and the words a boy’s story at the present time, until they intertwine. I like how this story is told too. I am going to look for this book!

  3. This book sounds like a Black History Month – and “every” month treat to read. Heart-stopping stories of what the slaves endured to find eventual freedom are a wonderful addition to our history. I pinned this review to my Book Review board on Pinterest.

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques
    http://www.margotfinke.com

  4. Great to find such a compelling middle grade read for Black History Month. I have read little on the Underground Railroad.

  5. This sounds like an important book and a good introduction to the Underground Railway that many people don’t seem to know about. The mixture of the past and present would make it more readable for middle readers. Thanks for the great review.

  6. The underground railroad is a subject I’ve always enjoyed learning about. The fact that this story is told by two different narrators 150 years apart is really interesting! I’ll be adding this on to my TBR thanks to you Pat =)

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