CANALBOAT TO FREEDOM by Thomas Fall

CANALBOAT TO FREEDOM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The voyage to freedom is made by Ben Lown, a fourteen year old English boy who was indentured to the captain of a canalboat on the Delaware and Hudson Canal. During the course of his work, Ben learns that the agreement by which his services had been purchased was illegal, but his real understanding of the important difference between liberty and slavery comes from his co-worker Lundius, a freed slave. The deep friendship that develops between the two as Lundius teaches Ben about his new country and about growing up in general is very well handled. Eventually Ben discovers that Lundius is an active participant in the underground railway, and the boy readily agrees to help in the project. One of the escaped slaves, Newt, is very much in contrast to Lundius, with a cowering, helpless personality, but Lundius is killed in the process of saving him. It is easy to understand why Ben despises Newt, less easy to accept Newt's extreme change in outlook when he is given Lundius' papers guaranteeing his freedom. Otherwise, however, the characters are quite sympathetically and believably developed. Historical details have been well incorporated into the story, and the book offers a strong statement on personal liberty.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1966
Publisher: Dial