Sunday, February 6, 2011


Today I found one of those "absolutely perfect" picture books. UNDERGROUND, by Shane W. Evans, is the story of the Underground Railroad. The text on each page is very sparse, usually no more than two or three words a page, e.g. the text on the first page is, "The dark." The text on the second page, "The escape." And the third page, "We are quiet."

The illustrations are line drawings, set on a background. Dark shades of blue, with a few lighter blues, a little white for the stars, and an on occasional bit of yellow or gold for lanterns or flames, perfectly capture the nightime journey of runaway slaves. As the journey progresses, and the slaves get closer to freedom, there is more yellow and gold and white. It's a hard book to explain, but the illustrations are gorgeous, absolutely perfect for the subject. This is a book I could see winning the Caldecott.

I hadn't seen UNDERGROUND or read anything about it before I saw it at the bookstore this afternoon. When I looked for it online, I was surprised to read a review that said it would be a perfect book for introducing the Underground Railroad to young children. I guess you could use it that way, but when I read it, I pictured myself using it with older students, maybe fourth, fifth, or sixth graders. I think it would be a perfect book for introducing the Underground Railroad. I think it would also be a great book for a study on inferring.

I also think it would be a really interesting mentor text for writing. UNDERGROUND is so, so, so succinct, but captures, perfectly, the intensity of the slaves' journey. I wonder how kids might create similar texts about other historical events, or peoples' lives.

UNDERGROUND is a book you definitely want to own…


Betsy Parkes said...

Great find! There are a lot of good books about the Underground Railroad for kids, but this one does seem especially powerful in its illustrations and minimal text. I looked it up on Amazon and saw that they just started selling in Jan 18, and it has received great reviews so far. Again...great find!!! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Betsy Parkes

Patrick A. Allen said...

Carol, why? Why do you do this to me? Now I have to spend more money... Why, why? I must stop reading blogs, because it's beginning to put a strain on my budget. Oh, wait, there was already a strain!

Thanks once again for Carol's Corner.

Kids are hungry, I say, "Let them eat soup!"