I have been looking for more nonfiction titles for our upcoming social studies units on slavery and the Civil War, and discovered these wonderful books in our town library.
The Price for Freedom: How One Town Stood up to Slavery is the true story of the Oberlin-Wellington rescue of 1856. Set at the time when the Fugitive Slave Act was in effect, this is the story of John Price, who escapes from bondage in Kentucky and makes it across the Mississippi River to Ohio. In these dangerous times. the Fugitive Slave Act had made it a crime to give safe harbor escaping slaves or to assist them in any way. People of good conscience were therefore forced to either abandon their principles to protect themselves or break the law and face the often harsh consequences. John is lucky to land in Oberlin, Ohio – a staunchly anti- slavery town in which he is able to make a home. However, slave catchers ultimately track him down and he is kidnapped. When the townsfolk hear of this, they unite to storm in the inn where John is imprisoned and set him free – thereby deliberately breaking the law. The rescuers were ultimately tried and imprisoned for defying the Fugitive Slave Act, while John Price is believed to have made his way to Canada, where he would be free of slavery and the oppressive laws that continued to give the institution of slavery protection. Judith and Dennis Fradin have written a powerful story of both the evils of slavery as well as the essential goodness and bravery of so many people who battled so hard against it. Eric Velasquez’s beautiful paintings bring the story alive and provide vivid details.
Participants in the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, 1859
Image Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society
Tonya Bolden’s amazing Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty, which I’d seen reviewed quite often over the past few months.
The book opens with Frederick Douglass reminiscing about waiting to hear that President Lincoln had signed the long -awaited Emancipation Proclamation into law:
“We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky…we were watching, as it were, buy the dim light of the starts, for the dawn of the new day: we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”
But, the story of what led Lincoln to issue the Proclamation is complicated, and the Bolden does a masterful job of telling this story in a clear and engaging way. The many archival photographs, maps and letters bring the story to further life; and I also loved the fact that the pages of the book were designed to look antique, with frayed edges and creases running down its sides – you really feel as though you are holding an old book telling a very important story. Perfect. I know that this will be the book I use for teaching this important event this year.
I also read three books by the fabulous Jordan Sonnenblick for one particular student who has been really challenging to find books for this year. But, he LOVES Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie (also by Sonnenblick) and so I thought I’d line these up for the weeks ahead:
Ever After is the sequel to Drums, Girls,, and Dangerous Pie, and it follows Jeffrey’s adjustment to a life that is cancer free but not without the usual complications of teenage life.
Curveball is the story of Peter Friedman, who begins his high school baseball career with a potentially career ending injury. In search of something to occupy his time, he picks up his grandfather’s passion – photography. Of course, Peter learns much more than just how to shoot a perfect picture from his grandfather.
And Zen and the Art of Faking it is the hilarious story of San Lee, who tries to fake his way into his new school as a Zen master as a way of guaranteeing being left alone – except that his plans go awry and now he is faced with living up to the mystique of being a much admired Zen master.
All three books have the characteristic Sonnenblick touch – they are realistic, funny and wise. My student will love these…and I will now have the time to find next month’s reading!