Underground (Finding the Light to Freedom)

Underground (Finding the Light to Freedom), written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans, is a minimalist rendering of the Underground Railroad which will appeal to the earliest of word-recognizers. With typically two words on a page, it manages to capture the real desperation and terror of fugitive slaves without didacticism or condescension. Most of the illustrations are shrouded in darkness, with only peeps of light from the moon and stars, campfires, lantern lights, and human eyes. Only when freedom is within grasp does color brighten the page, night yielding to dawn.
The book also has a more universal appeal. The frugal narrative is a metaphor for any kind of human bondage. Even the youngest of readers who have ever played tag or hide ‘n seek will understand something about being trapped, staying under the radar, and escape. Still, with an instructional page at the end, the book can serve as an early introduction to perhaps the first defined social justice movement in American history. The story pulls no punches–on one page of the journey we are told that some people did not survive; those that did were battered not only by the natural elements but by a specter of dread almost as powerful as the drive to escape.
The minimal text complements the tightly-crafted illustrations. They appear to be pencil  and paint, the dark blue background throughout most of the book lightly applied so that light can peak from behind it.
Shane W Evans has written and illustrated many books for children. His website is www.shaneevans.com.





1 comment for “Underground (Finding the Light to Freedom)

  1. Paul Gallipeo
    May 28, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I bought this for my grandson on the basis of this review. Thanks, Peter!

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