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Almost to Freedom
Cover of Almost to Freedom
Almost to Freedom
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Lindy and her doll Sally are best friends - wherever Lindy goes, Sally stays right by her side. They eat together, sleep together, and even pick cotton together. So, on the night Lindy and her mama run...
Lindy and her doll Sally are best friends - wherever Lindy goes, Sally stays right by her side. They eat together, sleep together, and even pick cotton together. So, on the night Lindy and her mama run...
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  • Lindy and her doll Sally are best friends - wherever Lindy goes, Sally stays right by her side. They eat together, sleep together, and even pick cotton together. So, on the night Lindy and her mama run away in search of freedom, Sally goes too. This young girl's rag doll vividly narrates her enslaved family's courageous escape through the Underground Railroad. At once heart-wrenching and uplifting, this story about friendship and the strength of the human spirit will touch the lives of all readers long after the journey has ended.

About the Author-

  • Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the author of The Book Itch, as well as three Coretta Scott King Award-winning books: No Crystal Stair, Bad News for Outlaws, and Almost to Freedom. She is a former youth services librarian in New Mexico. Visit her online vaundanelson.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 27, 2003
    As she explains in an author's note, Nelson (Mayfield Crossing
    ) was inspired to write this story by a folk art museum's exhibit of black rag dolls, a few of which were discovered in Underground Railroad hideouts. Narrating this touching tale is a doll named Sally, who begins, "I started out no more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation." Miz Rachel stitches Sally together for her daughter, Lindy, who hugs the doll and tells her, "We gonna be best friends." Through Sally's perceptive eyes, readers catch a hard-hitting glimpse of slave life: as mother and daughter pick cotton under the gaze of an overseer, Sally hears him holler at them "like he's talkin' to a couple of horses." And after "Massa" whips Lindy when she asks his son how to spell her name, the tearful girl vows to her doll that someday "we be goin' to Freedom." A captivating account of escape via the Underground Railroad includes many suspenseful moments, among them a hasty departure from a safehouse that results in Lindy's inadvertently leaving Sally behind. Readers will be saddened by this turn of events—until another escaping slave child makes the doll her own. Nelson's writing is immediate and often lyrical. Yet it is Bootman's (The Music in Derrick's Heart
    ) realistic paintings, distinctive for their skillful use of light and darkness, that best convey the story's pathos and urgency. Ages 6-10.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2003
    Gr 1-4-A compelling story told from the point of view of an enslaved child's beloved rag doll. Made for young Lindy by her mama, Miz Rachel, the hand-stitched toy is the girl's most prized possession. She tells her, "Your name be Sally. We gonna be best friends." When the child's father is sold and Lindy is beaten for asking Massa's son how to spell her name, the horrid conditions of the cotton plantation become intolerable. One night Miz Rachel wakes Lindy and they run for their lives. They are reunited with Mr. Henry and the fugitive family heads North to freedom. They are given shelter at a station on the Underground Railroad, but must flee from slave catchers in the middle of the night. In the frantic scramble, Sally is left behind. The doll is lonely for her friend and worries for the safety of Lindy and her folks. When another child and her mother are sheltered in the basement, the doll joins her new best friend on her trip to Freedom. This accessible story is told in language that is within the experience of a young child and makes its impact without frightening or overwhelming readers. It is ultimately a story of hope and resilience, love and friendship. The evocative oil paintings are expertly rendered and effectively convey the powerful emotions of the tale. A fine addition to most collections.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2003 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2003
    Gr. 1-3. Lindy's beloved rag doll, Sally, tells how Lindy's family escapes on the Underground Railroad to find freedom "in a place called North." The doll's narrative and Bootman's dark, dramatic paintings bring close the child's daily experience: the cruel separation and physical punishment, and then the adventure of running away and hiding. At times it's hard to distinguish Sally from Lindy--why not just let the child tell the story herself? But then there's an anguished twist in the plot: the child and her doll are separated. Lindy gets away, but in the turmoil she leaves her doll behind. When another escaping child finds Sally and hugs her to herself, the story comes full circle. That's a powerful way to express the sorrow of loving families torn apart, and Bootman's stirring portraits, many of them set at night, in rich shades of purple and brown, show that the small rag doll bears witness to historical events of cruelty and courage.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2003, American Library Association.)

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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