Cover image for Bound for the North Star : true stories of fugitive slaves
Bound for the North Star : true stories of fugitive slaves
Fradin, Dennis B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 206 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1030 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.3 8.0 45700.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 8.7 12 Quiz: 23489 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :
Musical Score


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E450 .F77 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E450 .F77 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
E450 .F77 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E450 .F77 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E450 .F77 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The stories of slaves who fled the South in search of freedom are some of the most riveting in American history. The fugitives usually left at night, with little or no food or money and only the light of the North Star to guide them. Gathered here are twelve stirring stories of escape, including those of Henry "Box" Brown, Ellen and William Craft, and Harriet Tubman, along with less well known but equally compelling accounts of Mary Prince, Eliza Harris, Margaret Garner, John Anderson, Solomon Northrup, and others. Accompanied by striking archival prints and photographs, these thought-provoking narratives vividly depict the horrors of slavery and the high value of freedom, and are a testimony to the tenacity of the human spirit. Bibliography, index.

Author Notes

Dennis Brindell Fradin is the author of many books for young readers, including the well-received SAMUEL ADAMS: THE FATHER OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE and, with coauthor and wife Judith Bloom Fradin, IDA B. WELLS: MOTHER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-up. Like Virginia Hamilton's landmark Many Thousand Gone (1993) and individual accounts of Harriet Tubman and other rescuers on the Underground Railroad, this collective biography is an inspiring history of those who escaped slavery and their rescuers. It is also a horrifying, detailed account of what the people escaped. Fradin's biography Ida B. Wells (a Booklist Editors' Choice 2000 title) describes with brutal realism the lynching practices Wells fought against. In the same way, Fradin here draws on more than 16 slaves' personal experiences to show what slavery was like: the unrelenting racism; the physical brutality, including rape and flogging; the anguish of family separation. The accounts of reunions, often after years apart, are almost unbearable to read. The escapes and rescues show incredible courage, sacrifice, luck, and determination, but Fradin is clear that many slaves didn't make it, including Margaret Garner (the inspiration for Toni Morrison's 1987 novel Beloved), who slit her baby's throat so that her child would not be a slave. In contrast, there are amazing successful-rescue accounts, including those of Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, and William Still. Individuals who escaped often told their stories, some of which Fradin says were written down. He doesn't document his own sources and how he used them, except for a bibliography at the back, but he does point out what's fact and what's surmise. The book design is beautiful, with thick paper, clear type, and small archival photos and period sketches throughout. The narrative is direct, with no rhetoric or cover-up. Like Holocaust narratives, this is painful reading about legal racist cruelty and those who resisted it. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Adhering closely to the facts, often using primary source quotes, Fradin (Ida B. Wells) delivers 12 riveting accounts of daring escapes from slavery. Fradin illustrates a broad spectrum of flights, beginning with two accountsDfrom Mary Prince and from Fed (later known as John Brown)Dwho escaped to Britain, thus conveying to readers that England banned slavery prior to the U.S. and demonstrating how Prince acted as a catalyst in the British antislavery movement. Though some readers may be familiar with the escape attempts of Eliza Harris (the model for Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Margaret Garner (the inspiration for Toni Morrison's Beloved), Fradin discusses the two women and their children in the same chapter and highlights their vastly different fates. He also includes 15-year-old Ann Maria Weems, one of the few children to attempt escape alone, and Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The narrative focuses on the emotional realities and risks, enabling readers to feel the claustrophobia of Henry "Box" Brown's 26-hour escape from Richmond to Philadelphia inside a cramped box and carted by train as a shipment of shoes. The heroism of both black and white Underground Railroad operators shines through, especially in the memorable Oberlin-Wellington rescue in which the abolitionist town defied slave catchers and the Federal Fugitive Slave Law to save a runaway, and two chapters in which Levi ("nicknamed the President of the underground Railroad") and Katie Coffin figure prominently. Archival photographs and illustrations contribute to the historical accuracy of the stories but the design, unfortunately, looks institutional. Luckily, the attractive cover, a photograph of a square from the Underground Railroad Quilt made by Oberlin residents, will lure readers to the volume. Fradin makes liberal reference to the freed African-Americans' own accounts and will likely send many readers on to further volumes. Ages 11-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Fradin offers 12 fascinating accounts of runaway slaves who successfully escaped to the North, in some cases only after several failed attempts and recaptures, and all based on primary sources. Each chapter focuses on one person or pair of individuals and varies in length from 8 to 27 pages, accompanied by informative, black-and-white reproductions of paintings, drawings, woodcuts, newspaper ads, quilt blocks, and a few rare photos. Some of these fugitives are well-known: Harriet Tubman; Eliza Harris, whose journey across the ice with her child was immortalized in Uncle Tom's Cabin; and Margaret Garner, the inspiration for Toni Morrison's Beloved. Virginia Hamilton's Many Thousand Gone (Knopf, 1993) offers briefer accounts of some of the same subjects Fradin has included. An introductory author's note that gives a brief history of slavery; an afterword entitled "Slavery Is Still with Us," which gives addresses for contacting the United Nations to join the struggle against this modern-day violation of human rights; and a bibliography of both books and Web sites all help to make this an excellent, readable historical resource.- Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.