Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad

Fall 2012 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Henry Cole
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545399975
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Virginia farm native and former elementary school teacher Henry Cole depicts palpable tension, fear, and bravery in this superbly illustrated and wordless picture book.

A young Southern farm girl tends to her chores even as the Confederate soldiers ride by on horseback. As she's putting up potatoes in the barn, she hears a rustling in the harvested corn stalks. She turns and sees an eye (at about her own height) peeking through the stalks. Frightened, she runs back to her family's cabin. During dinner, she can't stop thinking about the young person in the barn. She doesn't say a word, but she knows what she must do.

Henry Cole's story from the Underground Railroad powerfully communicates the struggle each main character faces. The farm girl and the runaway slave understand each other without exchanging a word. They speak in gestures of courageous kindness and appreciation.

Readers are responsible for determining whether or not the adults in her family are unaware of or complicit in the young girl's silent selfless actions. Unspoken shares a moving lesson of ethics for readers of all ages, one that is rooted in a trying period in American history.

Parents' Choice   ©2012 Parents' Choice

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