NIGHT BOAT TO FREEDOM by Margot Theis Raven

NIGHT BOAT TO FREEDOM

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 9
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Drawing from hundreds of histories recorded in the Federal Writers’ Project’s Slave Narrative Collection, Raven quilts a composite tale set on the border between Kentucky—a slave state—and free Ohio. Granny Judith, a slave who dyes thread and weaves cloth, asks 12-year-old Christmas John, who she’s raised, to do a brave thing: row a slave girl across the Ohio River to freedom. The boy repeats this act (historically, over four years’ time) until it’s too dangerous to continue. Raven both highlights the historical import of fabric arts in slave life and incorporates them metaphorically. Granny Judith, giving Christmas John a handmade shirt dyed “turkey red,” his “freedom color,” bids him to save himself. He returns from the river and collects the old woman, declaring, “Freedom’s got no color for me without you.” Multiple-award-winner Lewis’s watercolors beautifully capture the loving relationship between Granny Judith and Christmas John, who he portrays as a strong adolescent grown bigger than his caregiver. He effectively paints the many moonless nightscapes, mist shrouding the fleeing figures. Handsome and affecting. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-31266-4
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2006




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