From the Publisher:
A young girl's courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story.
When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave
hiding in the barn, she is at once
startled and frightened.
But the stranger's fearful eyes
weigh upon her conscience,
and she must make a difficult choice.
Will she have the courage to help him?
Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl
and the runaway as they each face a journey:
one following the North Star,
the other following her heart.
Henry Cole's unusual and original rendering
of the Underground Railroad
speaks directly to our deepest sense
Horn Book (November/December, 2012)
This wordless picture book opens with a calm scene: a quilt hangs over a rural split-rail fence. A young girl enters the scene on the next double-page spread, leading a cow and watching a small group of Confederate infantry ride by. The girl continues with her daily chores, including gathering potatoes from the root cellar, where, behind the cut cornstalks stored there, she glimpses an eye, signaling that someone is hiding amongst them. Time passes; surreptitiously, the girl leaves food for the fugitive. The family gathers for a meal; bounty hunters searching for a runaway slave appear -- and then leave. Frightened, the girl runs to check on the escapee and discovers that he or she has gone -- leaving her a handmade cornhusk doll. What Cole shows so superbly through his accomplished yet unpretentious pencil art -- the ideal medium for the book, as it looks as if it’s of the era as well as portraying the era -- is the keeping of secrets. The entire family appears to know what’s going on, but the extent of each character’s involvement is never made explicit; it is conveyed by body language alone, particularly in the exaggerated movements of those who believe they are being watched, their averted eyes when facing the bounty hunters, and the various hands that bring food to the fugitive slave. The back jacket, with an arresting close-up of the young heroine, personalizes the experience by asking young readers: “What would you do if you had the chance to help a person find freedom?” betty carter