Eliza's Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary
Eliza's Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary
Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover12.72
Publisher's Hardcover15.29
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Annotation: A twelve-year-old slave girl begins writing in a journal where she documents her journey via the Underground Railroad from Alexandria, Virginia, to freedom in St. Catherines, Canada.
Catalog Number: #50002
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 139, 11 unnumbered pages
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 1-416-95814-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-49435-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-416-95814-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-49435-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2010020931
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
"Eliza, you can read and write. . . . That makes you bigger than even the man who tries to keep you a Slave." As chronicled in her diary, in 1855, 12-year-old Eliza chooses to run from the cruel master who sold away her mother when it becomes clear that he intends to sell Eliza, too. Motivated by the support of fellow slaves and a certain Underground Railroad conductor's siren song, Eliza follows the North Star from Alexandria, Virginia, to St. Catherine's, Ontario. Inspired in part by Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Nolen integrates ubiquitous slave narratives into the story, including "The People Who Could Fly" and the biblical account of Moses. Eliza is a commanding storyteller, drawing on an oral tradition aided by her mother's story quilt, which is pictured at the book's beginning. Fans of American Girl's Addy books will enjoy this, and readers hungry for more African American folklore will find Virginia Hamilton's Her Stories (1995) an excellent companion. Included are notes on the featured stories as well as an extensive bibliography.
Horn Book
Eliza, a young slave, follows Harriet Tubman's call to freedom. On the journey North, she brings with her a story quilt crafted by her mother, raising the spirits of her fellow travelers by relating the quilt's tales of strength, courage, and wisdom. Nolen gracefully conveys the desperation, determination, and steadfastness of fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Websites. Bib.
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven-year-old Eliza keeps a journal of her life as a slave on a farm in Alexandria, Va., in 1845. Ever since Eliza's mother was sold at a slave auction, Eliza has gotten by with the support of another slave woman, Abbey, and by holding close to her heart the stories and the story quilt her mother passed down to her. When Eliza discovers that she, too, will be sold upon her sick mistress' death, she decides to risk everything on a journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad with Harriet Tubman. As she makes her harrowing journey, Eliza tells her mother's stories, each one keyed to a square in the quilt and just right for the situation at hand. In this well-crafted tale, Nolen reveals some of the traumas and tragedies of slavery but keeps her focus on those things that allow Eliza the power to escape: literacy, her mother's legacy, a bit of luck and a great deal of courage. Although the novel's power and poignancy are somewhat undermined by its much-too-tidy happy ending, its relative slimness will see that it gets plenty of use. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 As she turns 12, Eliza is a Virginia house slave, increasingly responsible for the care of the ailing mistress who taught her to read and write. Since Sir sold her mother a year earlier, Eliza has only motherly cook Abbey, the discarded diary Abbey encourages her to write in, and a story quilt her mother made. When the mistress takes Eliza along to stay with family in Maryland, Eliza learns of the Underground Railroad from fellow slaves and a found stack of newspapers containing the serialized Uncle Tom's Cabin . With the help of a shadowy Harriet Tubman herself, Eliza escapes to freedom in Ontario, where by chance she reunites with her mother. Presented as the girl's diary published later by the adult Elizabeth, the narrative suffers from thin characterizations and awkward pacing resulting from sometimes forced pauses to record her mother's stories. While the writing is peppered with salient details of slave life and the times, Eliza experiences little of the brutality and, more important, the difficult choices, fleshed-out relationships, and internal struggles that humanize Patricia McKissack's Clotee in A Picture of Freedom (Scholastic, 1997), Jennifer Armstrong's Bethlehem in Steal Away (Orchard Books, 1992), or Elisa Carbone's real-life Ann Marie Weems in Stealing Freedom (Knopf, 1998). More didactic than authentic, Eliza's story serves as an effective vehicle to relate and contextualize 10 important folktales and Bible stories that were woven through the slave experience, though readers may wish for a more fully realized narrative holding those stories together. Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (2/1/11)
Horn Book (8/1/11)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (2/1/11)
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Wilson's Junior High Catalog
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages [147-150]).
Word Count: 27,218
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 143560 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q51418
Lexile: 670L
Guided Reading Level: M
Fountas & Pinnell: M

Christopher Award–winning author Jerdine Nolen imagines a young woman’s journey from slavery to freedom in this intimate and powerful novel that was named an ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.

It is 1854 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sold away and Eliza is left as a slave on a Virginia farm. It is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when she isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has only the quilt her mother left her and the stories her mother told to keep her mother’s memory close.

When the Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of the Slave sale auction and of Eliza being traded, she takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe: “Travel the night. Sleep the day…Go east. Keep your back to the setting of the sun. Come to the safe house with a candlelight in the window…That gal, Harriet, she’ll take you.”

All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her as she travels along her freedom road from Mary’s Land to Pennsylvania to Freedom’s Gate in St. Catharines, Canada, where she finds not only her freedom but also more than she could have hoped for.

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