Parents' Guide to

Follow the Drinking Gourd

By Lisa Fratt, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Engages children by bringing history to life.

Follow the Drinking Gourd Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Presenting difficult topics such as slavery and the Underground Railroad without frightening young ones isn't an easy task, but Jeanette Winters accomplishes it. Her rhythmic, gentle text and simple pictures in soothing nighttime tones still convey the fear and hardship runaway slaves experienced. The book successfully incorporates the musical and scientific aspects of the legend of Peg Leg Joe into the text. A few of the illustrations may seem a bit scary, but Winter keeps the presentation gentle enough for her young audience without sacrificing accuracy by presenting a watered-down version of history. While the paintings in the first half may evoke fear and pity, as the book progresses and the family nears freedom, the background colors lighten and brighten.

Though it may spur tough but valid questions about slavery, this book also stimulates an interest in astronomy, maps, history, and, of course, music.

Book Details

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