A young girl's courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story.When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger's fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice.Will she have the courage to help him?Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl and the runaway as they each face a journey: one following the North Star, the other following her heart.Henry Cole's unusual and original rendering of the Underground Railroad speaks directly to our deepest sense of compassion.
Cole s (A Nest for Celeste) beautifully detailed pencil drawings on cream-colored paper deftly visualize a family s ruggedly simple lifestyle on a Civil War era homestead, while facing stark, ethical choices. Beginning with an illustration of a star-patterned quilt hanging over a fence (such quilts, Cole writes in his author s note, signified a safe house for runaway slaves), the wordless story follows a girl who becomes aware of someone hiding in the barn. In one scene, she glances nervously over her shoulder at an unexpected noise; the next shows a closeup of cornhusks, a frightened eye peering through; the girl dashes from the barn in terror in a third illustration. After pondering her discovery, she stealthily delivers food wrapped in a checkered napkin on multiple occasions. Household adults are none the wiser, and following a close call with a pair of bounty hunters, the girl returns to the barn and discovers a cornhusk doll, left behind as thanks. Cole conjures significant tension and emotional heft (his silent storytelling calls to mind Brian Selznick s recent work) in this powerful tale of quiet camaraderie and courage. Ages 3 7.