Almost to Freedom

Common Sense Media says

Moving story on plantation in antebellum Virginia.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 
Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

The brutal treatment of the enslaved people is clearly depicted.

Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book deals directly with many of the hardships endured by enslaved African-American people in the pre-Civil War South, from verbal and physical abuse on the plantation to the terrors on the dangerous Underground Railway. For children old enough to comprehend some aspects of the historical setting and political situation in the story, this is an emotionally rewarding and ultimately optimistic story.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

Set on a plantation in antebellum Virginia, the story is narrated by a rag doll named Sally. She belongs to a little girl named Lindy whose family is enslaved by the owners of the plantation. Lindy works in the cotton fields alongside her mother. Her father has been sold \"down the river\" for promoting an idea that is still often talked about: Freedom. Sally does not know what or where this Freedom is, but she can see that it is important to the adults around Lindy. After Lindy is whipped by the overseer for asking the master's son how to spell her name, she and her mother escape one night and are reunited with Lindy's father. Together they travel on the Underground Railroad toward Freedom, but approaching slave catchers cause them to flee a safe house in the middle of the night -- and Sally is accidentally left behind. She stays alone in the hiding place until another little girl named Willa and her family arrive at the safe house. Sally is renamed Belinda and is happy to be in the arms of a little girl again.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Because of the time and the setting, there are many unhappy moments in the story. However, the warmth of the family and community connections, as well as the little girl's loving relationship with her doll, make the bad parts more bearable. Written in authentic dialect, the story is well told. The author draws the reader closely into the personal experience of enslavement, balancing unspeakable suffering with extreme courage and determination.

Using the voice, perspective, and naiveté of the doll offers a natural way to make a complicated historical situation more accessible for children. Illustrator Colin Bootman uses a dark palette with the soft illuminations of starlight and candlelight. In his historically accurate full-page and double-page spreads, the characters are alive with a huge range of emotions. This moving story is powerfully presented.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Underground Railroad. How did it begin, and how did it operate? What was at risk for the organizers, the hosts, and the people fleeing slavery? Kids may want to talk about slaves' family disruption -- parents can help explain the long-lasting consequences for African Americans. How did Sally provide stability for Lindy? How do you think she felt after she lost her doll?

Book details

Author:Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Illustrator:Colin Bootman
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:February 1, 2004
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 10
Award:Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors

This review of Almost to Freedom was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 13, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

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What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old May 19, 2014
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

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I think it was good but they need to add the end and not eave it were they did and also they need to make a 2 book
What other families should know
Educational value

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