Evans, Shane W. 2011. UNDERGROUND. New York: Roaring Book Press. ISBN 9781596435384 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-4]
“Escape,” “fear,” “crawl,” “tired.” These are words that Shane Evans incorporates into the minimal text describing passage on the Underground Railroad. The words expertly convey the silence and secrecy associated with this escape route for slaves. At the same time, Evans’ accompanying dark, mixed-media illustrations deftly reflect the emotions of its passengers, and his use of color further punctuates the reality of the fugitives’ passage from the darkness of slavery into the light of freedom.
While the simplicity of the text makes this an accessible choice for beginning readers, the deep symbolism reflected via the illustrations renders this picture book an appropriate selection for older and proficient readers as well.
For younger readers: Darken the room and gradually increase the amount of light. Encourage children to identify emotions they experienced throughout the process. Next, repeat the exercise but this time focus on the affect the light has on vision.
For older readers: Evans uses light as a symbol. Identify ways that darkness and light and color choice have been used as symbols throughout history, in literature, and in popular media.
Other books for children about the Underground Railroad:
Edwards, Pamela Duncan. BAREFOOT: ESCAPE ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. ISBN 9780064435192
Hopkinson, Deborah. SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT. Ill. by James Ransome. ISBN 0679874720
Levine, Ellen. HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX: A TRUE STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. ISBN
Weatherford, Carole Boston. MOSES: WHEN HARRIET TUBMAN LED HER PEOPLE TO FREEDOM. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. ISBN 0786851759
By Maria Cahill