Kid Appeal: 4th grade and up
Always looking for a book that can appeal to a young reader, has a strong writing style, and actually teaches something. This book definitely qualifies.
How did I know about it? I’ve never heard of it before. But I’ve read other books by Dennis Fradin that I liked. I was browsing, saw his name, and pulled it off the shelf immediately.
As a mentor text: The beginning is a straightforward account of the evening the slaves left Kentucky for Ohio. No teaser, no setting the scene, just straight into it. It’s good for the student writer to see that simple can work, too. The ending is effective not so much because of the writing but because of the placement of a photograph of the actual men involved. The townspeople’s pledge is that much more powerful when we can read it and look at them at the same time.
As a teaching tool for discussion: It provides lots of talking points. The Fugitive Slave Act itself which doesn’t come up in most reads, seeing an issue from both sides, the role of community and the more philosophical consideration of “are all laws just?”
Readability: Narrative of a specific moment in history. Story and hourly timeline will keep readers interested. My guess is it will get a good rating even from most kid readers, even those who say they don’t like reading about history.