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|Voices from the Underground Railroad|
Author: Winters, Kay
Siblings Mattie and Jeb escape slavery via the Underground Railroad, meeting helpful conductors and dodging slave catchers as they travel from Maryland to Massachusetts.
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/17)
School Library Journal (-) (01/01/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2018 Gr 4–6—Large illustrations accompany narrative poems told from a variety of viewpoints that revolve around the escape of Mattie and Jeb, two young enslaved siblings, from a master who wants to sell them to pay off gambling debts. Both Mattie and Jeb tend to speak and think in fragments with little to distinguish them from each other ("I work hard but get no pay./The master collects it."; "Never a kind word./Always afraid./I want to be free!/We gotta go."). In addition to the perspective of the conductor, stationmaster, and operative, Winters also provides the point of view of slave owner Clarinda and Angus and Rufus, two slave catchers. Their scenes are littered with disturbing language such as "Blast their black hides" and "Dumb darkies." The illustrations are done well but the didactic text struggles to balance a history lesson with emotional storytelling. Winters attempts to ramp up tension with lines such as "The hunt's begun!" but the overall feeling is one of exploitation. Mattie and Jeb do successfully make it up North where "Black people and white people are out and about/No one looks afraid!" VERDICT This book misses its mark.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.