This story, set before the Civil War, shares what happens to Sadie and her family as they watch a friend and fellow slave beaten to death after he tried to escape. All Sadie has left to remind her of January is the small sparrow he carved from wood. When Sadie and her family flee in the night to go north via the Underground Railroad, the sparrow is left behind. Eventually Sadie and her family settle in a northern city, intending to continue to Canada, yet content to stay in this welcoming town for the time. Without giving away the actual events in this story, I will just say that the ending is heartwarming - a true example of friendship and loyalty, of looking beyond the color of someone's skin. The narrator is a bit of a surprise, too, in a very good way.
I meant to read this one right away after I received it from The Picnic Basket, and I have carried it around with me for a few weeks. My eight year old read it to herself....I think she understood parts of it, but I wish we could have read it together since the Underground Railroad and slavery are concepts and events that she is not familiar with as a second grader. As with most books, I enjoyed that Polacco wrote about an event in history- the Crosswhite saga- that really happened. And as usual, wonderful illustrations. This is a bit of a longer picture book - definitely for upper elementary or more advanced readers.
Visit Patricia Polacco's website.