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.