Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
Publisher: Bloomsbury/Walkers Children's ( January 8, 2013)
Independent Reading Level: Grades 4 to 7
Read Aloud: Grades 3 to 6
Nonfiction * Slavery * African American History
Description from GoodReads:
When John Price took a chance at freedom by crossing the frozen Ohio river from Kentucky into Ohio one January night in 1856, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was fully enforced in every state of the union. But the townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio, believed there that all people deserved to be free, so Price started a new life in town-until a crew of slave-catchers arrived and apprehended him. When the residents of Oberlin heard of his capture, many of them banded together to demand his release in a dramatic showdown that risked their own freedom. Paired for the first time, highly acclaimed authors Dennis & Judith Fradin and Pura Belpré award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez, provide readers with an inspiring tale of how one man's journey to freedom helped spark an abolitionist movement.
My thoughts on the book:
It is somewhat exhilarating when I find a book that presents a different side or piece of history from many other stories. I have read numerous picture books on slavery, the Underground Railroad, and abolitionists but this was the first time I have read about the role the townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio played in standing up against injustices against slaves.
Husband and wife team, Dennis and Judith Fradin, share the powerful story of John Price's escape and fight for freedom and how the many townspeoples in Oberlin stood up on his behalf. As I read through the text and looked at the accompanying illustrations by Eric Velasquez, I found myself emotionally moved by the efforts of both John Price and the Oberlin community. There was also a sense that this community was strong in both belief and action. It wasn't simply a few people who stood up to the unfairness of slavery or protested the recapturing of John Price, but instead it seems like everyone in the community has a role to play in change the rules. The emotion and power of the book is clearly brought forward through the mixed media and oil paintings created by Eric Velasquez.
The final pages of The Price of Freedom contain various resources including an author's note, a bibliography, further reading, and website resources which provide readers with additional information and insight to the story of Oberlin Ohio.
Released in time for African American History Month (February), this book will be a excellent addition to any classroom or school library collection. Look for The Price of Freedom at your local independent bookstore or community library.
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