Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Audience: ages 6+
Summary: A rag doll tells the story of a slave family’s escape to find freedom “in a place called North.” The doll tells of being sewn by a slave mother for her daughter. The family must run away from their home. Along the way they face dangers, but also find people who are willing to help them and to offer hospitality. The people who offered this hospitality were often in danger themselves; they offered hospitality at great personal risk. At one point, the doll is lost and left behind in the hiding place. Later the doll is found and adopted by another little girl who is escaping to freedom with her family. The story was inspired by an exhibit focused on the Underground Railroad. While some of the harsh realities of the time and culture are depicted (the father is sold; the daughter is whipped), the rag doll’s point of view helps to soften the impact for younger readers.
Literary Elements at work in the story:
- Genre—Historical fiction
- Point of view—the doll tells the story.
- Style—written within experience of young children, makes impact without frightening or overwhelming young readers
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: Gender and race integral to story, reflect historical accuracy. Caucasians are minor characters; some are cruel, some are kind.
Scripture: Exodus, Matthew 25:31-46, Daniel 6:7-13, 1 Samuel 18:1-3, Proverbs 18:24, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:13
Theology: Courage, hospitality, love, friendship
Faith Talk Questions:
- Who showed courage?
- Where was God in this story?
- What is a friend?
- Why did the woman put Lindy’s family in the dark basement? Was she mean? Why do you say this?
Review prepared by Union-PSCE graduate Mary Anne Welch.
Almost to Freedom by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.