Reviews for Place Called Freedom


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 June 1997
Ages 5^-8. After being freed from slavery in 1832, seven-year-old James Starman, his sister, and their parents walk from Tennessee to Indiana, where they decide to settle. Papa plants crops and builds a cabin; Mama sews clothes and teaches her children to read and write; and, whenever he can, Papa returns to Tennessee, transporting other friends and relatives to safety in the North. As the years go by, an entire town of African Americans develops, which the residents name Freedom. Allen's illustrations, rendered in blue pastels with accents of brown, red, and gold, suit the upbeat mood of the story and portray many common frontier activities. Based on the true story of the founding of Lyle Station, Indiana, this will make an excellent addition to primary history units and may spur students to discover the histories of their own towns. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
In a story of courage, lyrical prose traces a once-enslaved family's journey from Tennessee to Indiana and the establishment of an African-American settlement that still exists today. Soft blue type and gentle pastel illustrations reflect the love that binds the family together even while it soft-pedals the difficulties of the journey. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 May #3
In a lyrical intertwining of fact and fiction, Sanders (Aurora Means Dawn) spotlights a sliver of American history: the founding of an Indiana village by former slaves in the mid-19th century. The concise and eloquent story is narrated by the son of the inaugural settlers, who was seven when his newly freed family traveled north from Tennessee in 1832. He recounts their long journey on foot, when, night after night, "the buttery bowl of the moon filled up, then emptied again." As his father returns repeatedly to the South to fetch "more of the folks we freemen as well as runaway slaves hear of the community, it blossoms into a village named Freedom. The blue and beige shades of Allen's (The Days Before Now) sketchy pastels, which often combine finished faces with barely delineated clothing and backgrounds, show the townsfolk at work and the village enlarging. Simple, unframed images emerging from stark white backgrounds, coupled with a typeface that mimics hand-lettering, create an inviting sense of the historical made personal. Ages 5-8. (June) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 August
PreS-Gr 2?Sanders continues to explore the experience of blazing new trails and creating community in the wilderness. This time his subject is an African-American family freed from slavery in 1832. After settling on untamed land along the Wabash River in Indiana, Papa returns frequently to the Tennessee plantation to guide other loved ones north. (It is unclear here whether he is guiding them as a conductor on the Underground Railroad or if they, too, have been freed.) Eventually, his bustling settlement warrants railroad tracks and a name (in actuality, Lyles Station, not "Freedom"). Told from the point of view of James, who is seven when the story begins, the narrative is brief but full of memorable images: "Papa called Lettie a short drink of water, because she was little and wriggly, and he called me a long gulp of air, because I was tall and full of talk." Allen's scenes, in muted earth tones and foggy blues, are close-up cameos, his pastel edges fading into the white page?an effective technique, suggesting a sequence of rising and falling memories. Some of the "recollections" give way to full, double-page, colored-pencil illustrations, making this a successful choice for groups despite the subtle hues. While much is available on the Underground Railroad for the picture-book audience, parallels to the "Little House" experience for African Americans are relatively scarce. It is that focus and the fine writing that make this book a breath of fresh air.?Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA

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