Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Pearsall, Shelley.
New York : Knopf, 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 5.2
ISBN 0375914900

(2 booktalks)

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Booktalk #1

Eleven-year-old Samuel is yanked from his bed by old Harrison, a fellow slave. Together they begin their perilous journey on the Underground Railroad, moving from one safe house to the next. The journey is filled with many adventures and narrow escapes, but through it all, Samuel learns to be a stronger person who is able to cope with many difficulties. In this memorable, unsentimentalized account of two slavesí flight to freedom, the reader gains insights into prejudice, trust, family, and the indomitable human spirit.  (Sunshine State Young Readerís Award Program, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #2

The year is 1859, a year before the Civil War begins Samuel is 11 year's old. He is a slave on Master Hackler's plantation in Kentucky. He has been raised by Lilly in the house kitchen. His mother was sold off before a time he could remember. The old man, Harrison, lives in the barn and takes care of the animals.
                    One day Samuel breaks a plate in the Master & Mistresses presence. Miz Catherine gives him a stern tongue lashing and the Master throws his blankets out into the night and declares that he will go without supper and not sleep by the warm hearth for the night.
                    The old man , Harrison, knows that trouble is just beginning for Samuel. Harrison has the scars on his back from a life time of whip lashings to know what trouble is.
                    He tells young Samuel to "sleep with your top eye open tonight." ( I read the segment here that starts with the chapter entitled , "Old Master Hackler's Ghost." And read up through the line that ends with, "Lord almighty, just hush up!"
                    There in begins the story of two runaway slaves, one old and one young. When they get a short ways from the house. Harrison pulls out an onion which he slices up and rubs on his and Samuel's bare feet( I ask the students "why" he does this?) This is a journey fraught with danger at every turn. There are slave hunters everywhere with dogs and the rewards are great if they can return the runaways to their masters.
                    This story is interesting in that is is told from the voice of the young slave Samuel. A lot of stories about the "underground railroad"  are told from the viewpoint of the white folks who ran the railroad.  (Judith A. Smith,, Desert Hills Middle School, Kennewick, WA)

SUBJECTS:     Fugitive slaves -- Fiction.
                        Slavery -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Race relations -- Fiction.
                        Underground railroad -- Fiction.
                        Old age -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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