Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Follow the Drinking Gourd

The only thing harder than trying to explain slavery to my son (the concept still sounds ludicrous to me when I say it aloud) was trying to explain that the Underground Railroad was not actually underground, nor a railroad.

Reading Follow the Drinking Gourd, by Jeanette Winter, was certainly a step in the right direction.

Legendary Underground Railroad conductor Peg Leg Joe hired himself out to plantation owners as a handyman. During his time at each plantation, he taught the slaves a folk song called "Follow the Drinking Gourd" that seemed nonsensical to the plantation masters but contained information that would direct the slaves to freedom.

This book follows a group of slaves who escape using the song's hidden messages. With the help of others along the way, they flee successfully to their freedom in Canada. It's a gripping story, simple enough for children but eloquent enough to bring tears to my eyes.

1 comment:

Manda said...

This sounds like an excellent read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. Happy *belated* new year.