A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS by Alex Haley

A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slim (101 pp.), transparent, and heavy-handed story of a young southern aristocrat who comes to see the evils of slavery and goes to work for the Underground Railroad. Distinctly YA, but advertised ""for all ages,"" one assumes there's a TV movie tie-in--but, regardless, the story's unassailable morality, along with Haley's name, should make it a popular gift this Christmas. It's 1855. Princeton sophomore Fletcher Randall is the son of a North Carolina Senator and heir to his last plantation. A hardworking student, loner Fletcher is surprised when three Quaker brothers make overtures of friendship. Defensive about slavery, he expects to be challenged; but their sincerity wins him over, and he accepts an invitation to their Philadelphia home. He's outraged to meet free blacks and see an anti-slavery rally. Back at school, though, he researches the subject (allowing such devices as: ""He'd had no idea that the Underground Railroad had acquired its name around 1831 when. . ."") and is converted. Volunteering with the UGRR, Fletcher is assigned to go home for the holidays and arrange an escape among his father's slaves for Christmas Eve. Once home, he briefly wrestles with his conscience, then arranges a party at his father's mansion as a diversion. With fellow UGRR conductor Harpin' John, a talented and privileged slave, Fletcher arranges the escape. After dose calls, their plans succeed--thanks to unseen but handy local Indians--and Fletcher heads for a new life up North. Simplistic and baldly didactic, but, still, a painless, sometimes colorful history lesson for the kids.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday