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Barefoot: Escape On The Underground Railroad

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With a taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Livingstone Mouse transport youngsters onto the overgrown path that an escaping slave stealthily follows one evening. The sound of the young man's racing heart is almost audible as Edwards describes his desperate predicament: "He was fearful of what lay before h With a taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Livingstone Mouse transport youngsters onto the overgrown path that an escaping slave stealthily follows one evening. The sound of the young man's racing heart is almost audible as Edwards describes his desperate predicament: "He was fearful of what lay before him. He was terrified of what lay behind." But the man has allies in the underbrush, creatures that perceive him as "the Barefoot" (in contrast to "the Heavy Boots" who come in angry pursuit). A frog signals the presence of water, which quenches the Barefoot's thirst; a scurrying squirrel turns his eye to a blanket of leaves under which he naps; a deer diverts a crew of Heavy Boots away from this hiding place; and fireflies light the way to the safe house ahead. The vigilant eyes of these deftly rendered creatures peer out from Cole's haunting paintings, cleverly skewed to invoke the animals' ground-hugging perspective on the Barefoot's flight.


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With a taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Livingstone Mouse transport youngsters onto the overgrown path that an escaping slave stealthily follows one evening. The sound of the young man's racing heart is almost audible as Edwards describes his desperate predicament: "He was fearful of what lay before h With a taut, involving narrative and dramatic, shadow-filled full-spread art, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Livingstone Mouse transport youngsters onto the overgrown path that an escaping slave stealthily follows one evening. The sound of the young man's racing heart is almost audible as Edwards describes his desperate predicament: "He was fearful of what lay before him. He was terrified of what lay behind." But the man has allies in the underbrush, creatures that perceive him as "the Barefoot" (in contrast to "the Heavy Boots" who come in angry pursuit). A frog signals the presence of water, which quenches the Barefoot's thirst; a scurrying squirrel turns his eye to a blanket of leaves under which he naps; a deer diverts a crew of Heavy Boots away from this hiding place; and fireflies light the way to the safe house ahead. The vigilant eyes of these deftly rendered creatures peer out from Cole's haunting paintings, cleverly skewed to invoke the animals' ground-hugging perspective on the Barefoot's flight.

30 review for Barefoot: Escape On The Underground Railroad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    I loved the animal and human interconnectedness in this book. From the animals’ perspective Barefoot (an escaping slave) is hunted by Heavy Boots (those trying to recapture him) and the young man who is fleeing makes use of the presence of the animals to find food, water, etc. It’s an interesting way to tell a story about an escaping slave and the people attempting to recapture him and the people who are willing to help him. I appreciated the idea of the story and I was very grateful that the aut I loved the animal and human interconnectedness in this book. From the animals’ perspective Barefoot (an escaping slave) is hunted by Heavy Boots (those trying to recapture him) and the young man who is fleeing makes use of the presence of the animals to find food, water, etc. It’s an interesting way to tell a story about an escaping slave and the people attempting to recapture him and the people who are willing to help him. I appreciated the idea of the story and I was very grateful that the author’s note mentioned some of what bothered me: mentioning that the animals didn’t know they were being helpful, and yet asking kids to ask whether perhaps they did know; that latter question was okay with me. But I didn’t like that in the story, the animals did seem to know a tad more what was going on that is reasonable to expect. I also didn’t like the sort of magical content, the main instance being that while Barefoot is hiding in the marsh he inexplicably escapes getting any mosquito bites, while those same pests cover the Heavy Boots with bites, driving them away from the man escaping. I think it would have been a more powerful story if the escaping slave had been bitten as well. (I know there are great variations in how susceptible different individuals are to getting mosquito bites and perhaps the mosquitoes were attracted by the hunters’ lanterns, but even so; I couldn’t suspend disbelief.) I did like how it was made obvious that there were multiple slaves fleeing to freedom. And I think that the brief author’s note at the end gave useful information about the Underground Railroad network. The illustrations were wonderfully atmospheric, and I like how that until toward the end, it was feet that were emphasized in the pictures of the humans. It’s supposed to be night, and the pictures are so dark, even the one that shows the house with the quilt, and I think that was a good choice. This book could be a good choice for learning about and starting discussions about slavery and the Underground Railroad.

  2. 4 out of 5

    K.C. Gardner

    The main character in this story is the Barefoot, a slave attempting to escape on the Underground Railroad. The plot tells of the Barefoot moving in the night to freedom in the north. There is suspense in the movement of the animals and Barefoot who is trying to get away from the Heavy Boots who will take him back to the south. This story attempts to tell what it must have been like to run away from the people who were to return the Barefoot to the south. The inclusion of the quilt on the house The main character in this story is the Barefoot, a slave attempting to escape on the Underground Railroad. The plot tells of the Barefoot moving in the night to freedom in the north. There is suspense in the movement of the animals and Barefoot who is trying to get away from the Heavy Boots who will take him back to the south. This story attempts to tell what it must have been like to run away from the people who were to return the Barefoot to the south. The inclusion of the quilt on the house helps to make the story more authentic and exciting. Freedom’s spirit is strong with the Barefoot. The content will appeal to children, who will see the Barefoot’s escape as a true adventure. This poetic story would be most interesting to children in third or fourth grade. Children in these grades are learning about slavery as a part of American history, and this book would fit in well as a classroom book. It would help some students that find history dry to find understanding, since the reader can almost hear the quick breathing of the escapee. Children will be able to discuss how the Barefoot must have felt as he ran.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    This is not the book I expected it to be. I expected a book that read more non-fiction, which information about the Underground Railroad and the plight of the men and women who used it or connected it. Instead, what I read was a narrative told from the collective point of view of some forest animals as they observed a "Barefoot," their name for a man traveling the Underground Railroad, being tracked by "Heavy Boots," the term used for (presumably) white men. Since small animals tell the story, mo This is not the book I expected it to be. I expected a book that read more non-fiction, which information about the Underground Railroad and the plight of the men and women who used it or connected it. Instead, what I read was a narrative told from the collective point of view of some forest animals as they observed a "Barefoot," their name for a man traveling the Underground Railroad, being tracked by "Heavy Boots," the term used for (presumably) white men. Since small animals tell the story, most of the illustrations are from the knee down, unless they're looking far in the distance. Through the story, we pick up important information that is left in the narrative cleverly. In a way, the style of the narrative reminds me of Lost in the Woods by Carl Sams, with the animals all helping - in this case - the Barefoot to escape. The vocabulary is simple, and there are only a few large-print sentences on each page. Signposts: CC, AA (implied), A-ha or TQ a bit of a stretch.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Ruigrok

    This is a beautiful book about the underground railroad. It has amazing illustrations and is told from an interesting point of view....with the animals watching "the barefoot" and "the heavy boots". An amazing book! This is a beautiful book about the underground railroad. It has amazing illustrations and is told from an interesting point of view....with the animals watching "the barefoot" and "the heavy boots". An amazing book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Davidson

    This is a wonderfully told story of a runaway slave - perceived by the forest animals as "Barefoot" - who is running by night to find a safe house on the Underground. He is being pursued by "Heavy Boots", so the animals help the escaping slave. Fabulous illustrations. This is a wonderfully told story of a runaway slave - perceived by the forest animals as "Barefoot" - who is running by night to find a safe house on the Underground. He is being pursued by "Heavy Boots", so the animals help the escaping slave. Fabulous illustrations.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    It is how animals helped the barefoot people (slaves) escape on the underground railroad. Ex. A frog croaked-water, a deer ran off- salve catchers chased the deer. Then he makes it to a cabin with a quilt on it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Becky Kondritz

    Growth mindset picture book. Love reading about the underground railroad. Did not LOVE this book, just liked.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    5 stars for excellent storytelling

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Henry

    Barefoot is a slave who is running away from his owner, Heavy Boots. The endgame is to find a safe haven where Barefoot could hide out until he can reach the Underground Railroad. After running out of food and water, the animals in the forest decide to help this young boy get away from his owners. They give him signs of where to go and help misguide the Heavy Boots. Barefoot is brave and smart. Each individual animal help to guide the way for Barefoot through their actions and sounds. There was n Barefoot is a slave who is running away from his owner, Heavy Boots. The endgame is to find a safe haven where Barefoot could hide out until he can reach the Underground Railroad. After running out of food and water, the animals in the forest decide to help this young boy get away from his owners. They give him signs of where to go and help misguide the Heavy Boots. Barefoot is brave and smart. Each individual animal help to guide the way for Barefoot through their actions and sounds. There was no external dialogue between characters as it was more so internal. The setting took place mostly outside as the barefoot was trying to get to the Underground Railroad. The colors in the illustrations are dark and gloomy and it helps to set the mood of the story. This is a very authentic story and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    “Barefoot, Escape on the Underground Railroad” by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole was the second book I read about the undergrad railroad. It was interesting to read this picture book because it gave a different perspective about the underground railroad. First, this person was running on feet to escape and the story was told by the animals’ point of views. Any animal that the person would be near to would help them in natural ways. If there was frog near by, the person knew “Barefoot, Escape on the Underground Railroad” by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole was the second book I read about the undergrad railroad. It was interesting to read this picture book because it gave a different perspective about the underground railroad. First, this person was running on feet to escape and the story was told by the animals’ point of views. Any animal that the person would be near to would help them in natural ways. If there was frog near by, the person knew there would be fresh water, if there were squirrels nearby then there would be trees and etc. It reminded me that the animals were witnesses of our past and I wondered how it slaves use animals in the past to help them to their advantage. It also shows the struggles of slavery without making it inappropriate to talk about with students. The pictures throughout the book were very dark which I liked because it made it realistic that the slave was running through the night trying to find shelter in the dark. That’s a very scary experience for anyone to go through and I also like how the main characters were the animals helping him on his journey. Through out the story you would only see mainly the slave’s feet but never the detailing of his face. What he looked like was a mystery but then again, the story was about paying attention to the animals and the person’s surroundings. It was neat reading a story about the underground railroad this way.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    1. Genre: Historical fiction picture book 2. Summary: A runaway slave is being chased by his owners. The animals in the forest are playing apart in helping him escape and find a safe place to stay. 3. a) Illustrations b) The dark illustrations help tell the story of this runaway slave. It requires that the reader pay close attention to the story and illustrations. The reader can feel the tension of the runaway slave hiding from his owners and almost being caught. I could feel the heart beating of 1. Genre: Historical fiction picture book 2. Summary: A runaway slave is being chased by his owners. The animals in the forest are playing apart in helping him escape and find a safe place to stay. 3. a) Illustrations b) The dark illustrations help tell the story of this runaway slave. It requires that the reader pay close attention to the story and illustrations. The reader can feel the tension of the runaway slave hiding from his owners and almost being caught. I could feel the heart beating of this individual which the book calls 'Barefoot.' The drawings and story shows that the animals are helping the runaway slave. The illustrations are strong and appropriate for this historical picture book. c) In the first page, there is a close up of a rabbit and two feet in the grass. The grass and scenery is dark to show the time of day and an introduction to the type of story this is going to be. 4. In the classroom, I would read this book to my students as an introduction to learning about the underground railroad and slavery. I would ask the students what do they think the book is going to be about, to help them access background knowledge and assess their current understandings of the Underground Railroad. This will hopefully interest and motivate them to want to learn more about this historical topic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Allison Webster

    1. This book belongs the the genre of historical picturbooks. 2. A heron, a frog, a mockingbird, a squirrel, a gang of mosquitoes, a deer, and fireflies all aid "Barefoot" to escape several "Heavy Boots" to safety along the Underground Railroad. 3. The area for critique is Point of view. The way this book was written provides a great lesson on point of view. the story is written and illustrated from the point of view of several woodland creatures. The great majority of the illustrations are at g 1. This book belongs the the genre of historical picturbooks. 2. A heron, a frog, a mockingbird, a squirrel, a gang of mosquitoes, a deer, and fireflies all aid "Barefoot" to escape several "Heavy Boots" to safety along the Underground Railroad. 3. The area for critique is Point of view. The way this book was written provides a great lesson on point of view. the story is written and illustrated from the point of view of several woodland creatures. The great majority of the illustrations are at ground level looking at either a pair of bare feet or several booted feet. Sometimes, the point of view is from a bird, so the illustration is a bird's view. Although the author never uses the terms "slave" or "master", it is clear that "Barefoot" is a slave, and "Heavy Boots" are his captors or owners. The animals know they must help "Barefoot" escape, because they have seen many "bare feet" pass by in shackles". With their help, "Barefoot" escapes to safety along the Underground Railroad. 4. This book can be integrated into the curriculum in the following ways: English/Reading: Point of View, plot Science: Animal Signs History: Underground Railroad

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mayra Martinez

    There is someone that is running away barefoot at night and the animals are looking at him. He has been running for a long time and has no more water, but they he hears a frog and goes to it and drinks from the pond. He then eats some berries that he sees a mouse eating because he is hungry. He is very tired and he lies down on the ground and covers himself with leaves. Then, there is the noise of people in boots coming and the barefoot boy is scared because they are coming to take him back to t There is someone that is running away barefoot at night and the animals are looking at him. He has been running for a long time and has no more water, but they he hears a frog and goes to it and drinks from the pond. He then eats some berries that he sees a mouse eating because he is hungry. He is very tired and he lies down on the ground and covers himself with leaves. Then, there is the noise of people in boots coming and the barefoot boy is scared because they are coming to take him back to the place he was trying to run away from. Before the people in boots see him a lot of mosquitos started poking the people in boots that where passing through there. The people in boots decided to leave and the barefoot boy started walking until he saw a house with a quilt hanging outside. This house had people that were trying to help him, now he was safe.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Mcclure

    I really enjoyed this book. The point of view is an onlooker observing a slave escaping from slavery. The main character is referred to as "barefoot" and the slave hunters are "boots." In this tale, as "boots" is in pursuit of "barefoot," the creatures of the woods help out "barefoot." The croaking frogs guide him to water. The swarm of mosquitos attack the "boots" just a foot away from "barefoot" who remains untouched by the mosquitos. "Barefoot" makes it to a safe house. The forest creatures s I really enjoyed this book. The point of view is an onlooker observing a slave escaping from slavery. The main character is referred to as "barefoot" and the slave hunters are "boots." In this tale, as "boots" is in pursuit of "barefoot," the creatures of the woods help out "barefoot." The croaking frogs guide him to water. The swarm of mosquitos attack the "boots" just a foot away from "barefoot" who remains untouched by the mosquitos. "Barefoot" makes it to a safe house. The forest creatures settle back into their routine, until they hear another "barefoot" coming their way. Interesting way of referring to the slave and slave hunters. Requires making inferences. Teaches helping others however you can- even small things help.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alyxis Trujillo

    This is a great book for students supporting the history of the slavery and the underground railroads. It shows the struggle of an African American boy and how the animals helped him. Shows how all help can help ;) little or big. The pictures are very dark allowing the tale to be very realistic. This was my first time reading this book and I was suprised but I definatly think this would be a great way for young students to understand softly and connecting because of being told with a little boy This is a great book for students supporting the history of the slavery and the underground railroads. It shows the struggle of an African American boy and how the animals helped him. Shows how all help can help ;) little or big. The pictures are very dark allowing the tale to be very realistic. This was my first time reading this book and I was suprised but I definatly think this would be a great way for young students to understand softly and connecting because of being told with a little boy and the animals. Overall great book for classroom elementary age.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    With night darkened illustrations drawn from the perspective of small creatures, this books shares a story from our past that is vital to the understanding of young people. It is an amazing experience to enlighten young children on the reality of slavery. The disbelief and wonder at how people could do that to other people. The Underground Railroad and lore that surrounds it provides them with heroes and knowledge that people will strive to be free and that others will work to help them to their With night darkened illustrations drawn from the perspective of small creatures, this books shares a story from our past that is vital to the understanding of young people. It is an amazing experience to enlighten young children on the reality of slavery. The disbelief and wonder at how people could do that to other people. The Underground Railroad and lore that surrounds it provides them with heroes and knowledge that people will strive to be free and that others will work to help them to their goal.

  17. 4 out of 5

    margothere

    The illustrations in this are by Henry Cole told from the perspective of the animals the barefoot slave passes by. Cole is also the author/illustrator of Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad (2012), a wordless picture book about a girl and a runaway slave. I think it might be interesting to share these two together and talk about perspective, similarities/differences, and why Cole may have decided to create Unspoken 14 years after illustrating Barefoot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rene

    We read this book to accompany our FIAR book, Who Owns the Sun. There is a lot of beauty in the story, nature's oracles helping out and the author's note proposing the question to the auspiciousness of it all. From a child's standpoint, it opens a lot of doors to question, why is he barefoot?, who were these people that helped?, and there is a suspense to it that they like. We both thought the art was beautiful, illustrated by a true nature lover. We read this book to accompany our FIAR book, Who Owns the Sun. There is a lot of beauty in the story, nature's oracles helping out and the author's note proposing the question to the auspiciousness of it all. From a child's standpoint, it opens a lot of doors to question, why is he barefoot?, who were these people that helped?, and there is a suspense to it that they like. We both thought the art was beautiful, illustrated by a true nature lover.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Allen

    This is a great book for students. It shows the struggle of an African American boy and how the animals helped him. I would use this book when teaching about the underground railroad. However, this book would be good for the middle of the lesson. I would reinforce how hard it was for the Slaves to get the the railroad.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is a book about the underground railroad and the signs that were available for slaves to know that a house was indeed a safe house. It talks about how the animals helped the slaves make it to safety.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Alder

    Barefoot is a short picture book that shows the underground railroad from the animals piont of view. this book show the trials and hardships of being an African American slave trying to run away. the shading of the pictures help make you feel like you are right there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Wonderful book. I love how the animals 'help' Barefoot escape from the Heavy Boots. Great way to introduce children to the Underground Railroad and how difficult it was for slaves to escape, the danger they were in. Highly recommend. Wonderful book. I love how the animals 'help' Barefoot escape from the Heavy Boots. Great way to introduce children to the Underground Railroad and how difficult it was for slaves to escape, the danger they were in. Highly recommend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bethe

    clever story about the underground railroad, through the POV of the animals along the route. Author's note ends with a touch of magic. Be sure to spot the creatures in the dark shadows, helping the Barefoot escape to freedom. clever story about the underground railroad, through the POV of the animals along the route. Author's note ends with a touch of magic. Be sure to spot the creatures in the dark shadows, helping the Barefoot escape to freedom.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm not sure who the intended audience is for this book. It is very simply told like a preschool book, but it is about run away slaves, which is not a real preschool topic. I'm not sure who the intended audience is for this book. It is very simply told like a preschool book, but it is about run away slaves, which is not a real preschool topic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marika Gillis

    This is a fabulous book for teaching inferences in 3rd-5th grade.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jalair

    Love the story and pictures. Lets the reader join in the underground railroad experience.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Toby Abrahamsen

    Picture book (with suspense!). A slave's escape as seen through the eyes of different animals. Good to teach point of view, and inference. Picture book (with suspense!). A slave's escape as seen through the eyes of different animals. Good to teach point of view, and inference.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donalyn

    The escape of a runaway slave from the points of view of woodland animals.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katie Carlisle

    A good read to warm students up the idea of the Underground Railroad.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diantha

    Historical Fiction. Enjoyed the pictures, that combined with the words create a feeling of actuality. Actually being there, actually being the one who is running. Running to find freedom.

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