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Overground Railroad



by
Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by
James Ransome

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Holiday House
Imprint
Holiday House
ISBN
9780823438730
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$9.60   $8.00
SEE MEMBER PRICE
QTY

JLG Category

Easy Reading Plus

In poems, illustrated with collage art, a perceptive girl tells the story of her train journey from North Carolina to New York City as part of the Great Migration. Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view.

Overground Railroad offers a window into a child's experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators behind Finding Langston, Before She was Harriet, Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson, and Just a Lucky So and So.

Author’s note. Full-color illustrations were created with paper, graphite, paste pencils, and watercolors.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

48

Trim Size

10" x 10"

Dewey

[E]

AR

4.2: points 0.5

Lexile

AD1000L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Feb 2020

Book Genres

Picture Books for Older Readers

Topics

African Americans. Migrations. Railroad travel. Twentieth-century US history. Great Migration (1916-1970). Stories in verse. Family.

Standard MARC Records

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

Cline-Ransome and Ransome apply their considerable talents to this timely story about migration and a hope for a better life. At the crack of dawn, Ruth Ellen and her father and mother board the New York–bound Silver Meteor, the first train out of North Carolina that day. They board in secret, having already said their goodbyes to the family members who will stay behind. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads aloud from her book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a parting gift from her teacher. Finally, as night falls, they arrive at Penn Station and Ruth Ellen steps off the train into the city that is their new home while the bright lights of the city shine like stars. Ransome’s beautiful illustrations feature detailed and expressive faces and layers of bright patterned paper that add colorful accents to the muted palette. The faces of the white passengers are all cut from a single shade of white paper while the black passengers skin tones vary, reflecting the diversity of the participants of the Great Migration. The inclusion of information about Frederick Douglass’s journey in the story helps show that even though Ruth Ellen’s journey north is more comfortable in comparison, she and her family still experience the same uncertainty and apprehension on their trip. Ruth Ellen’s narration brings an immediacy to the trip, her thoughts often interrupted by the train conductor’s shouts of, “Next Stop…” as they move along. An author’s note gives readers historical context, placing the story in the era of the Great Migration, inspired by just one story of the many who were, “running from and running to at the same time.” An excellent and highly recommended first purchase.

Horn Book

“Some walked. / Some drove. / But we took the train north.” In 1939, as part of the Great Migration, young Ruth Ellen and her parents leave North Carolina, their extended family, and the oppression of the sharecropping system (explained in an author’s note) behind and board the Silver Meteor, destination New York City. “No more picking,” says Daddy. “No more working someone else’s land,” says Mama. Cline-Ransome’s lyrical verse and Ransome’s lush, full-bleed mixed-media illustrations illuminate their journey, punctuated by the conductor’s announcements of station stops. Ruth Ellen and her parents sit in the uncomfortably overcrowded “colored car” until Baltimore, at which point they can legally sit where they want (having passed the line “that divides black from white / south from north / wrong from right”); still, they aren’t made welcome by white passengers, whose eyes say “keep moving”; whose hands covering empty seats say “not here.” Ruth Ellen is reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass on the train, and Cline-Ransome generalizes the details of Douglass’s own escape to emphasize the similarities in the two situations: “jobs / education / freedom / are waiting…for us. / And like the boy in the book / we all running from / and running to / at the same time.” Ransome does an admirable job of setting mood as well as establishing time and place. Warm browns, greens, and golds predominate; a spread showing the family’s necessarily clandestine departure glows with the striking pink of a predawn sky. Paneled endpapers depicting Black people migrating North via foot, train, bus, and car are particularly effective.

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Cline-Ransome and Ransome apply their considerable talents to this timely story about migration and a hope for a better life. At the crack of dawn, Ruth Ellen and her father and mother board the New York–bound Silver Meteor, the first train out of North Carolina that day. They board in secret, having already said their goodbyes to the family members who will stay behind. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads aloud from her book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a parting gift from her teacher. Finally, as night falls, they arrive at Penn Station and Ruth Ellen steps off the train into the city that is their new home while the bright lights of the city shine like stars. Ransome’s beautiful illustrations feature detailed and expressive faces and layers of bright patterned paper that add colorful accents to the muted palette. The faces of the white passengers are all cut from a single shade of white paper while the black passengers skin tones vary, reflecting the diversity of the participants of the Great Migration. The inclusion of information about Frederick Douglass’s journey in the story helps show that even though Ruth Ellen’s journey north is more comfortable in comparison, she and her family still experience the same uncertainty and apprehension on their trip. Ruth Ellen’s narration brings an immediacy to the trip, her thoughts often interrupted by the train conductor’s shouts of, “Next Stop…” as they move along. An author’s note gives readers historical context, placing the story in the era of the Great Migration, inspired by just one story of the many who were, “running from and running to at the same time.” An excellent and highly recommended first purchase.

Horn Book

“Some walked. / Some drove. / But we took the train north.” In 1939, as part of the Great Migration, young Ruth Ellen and her parents leave North Carolina, their extended family, and the oppression of the sharecropping system (explained in an author’s note) behind and board the Silver Meteor, destination New York City. “No more picking,” says Daddy. “No more working someone else’s land,” says Mama. Cline-Ransome’s lyrical verse and Ransome’s lush, full-bleed mixed-media illustrations illuminate their journey, punctuated by the conductor’s announcements of station stops. Ruth Ellen and her parents sit in the uncomfortably overcrowded “colored car” until Baltimore, at which point they can legally sit where they want (having passed the line “that divides black from white / south from north / wrong from right”); still, they aren’t made welcome by white passengers, whose eyes say “keep moving”; whose hands covering empty seats say “not here.” Ruth Ellen is reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass on the train, and Cline-Ransome generalizes the details of Douglass’s own escape to emphasize the similarities in the two situations: “jobs / education / freedom / are waiting…for us. / And like the boy in the book / we all running from / and running to / at the same time.” Ransome does an admirable job of setting mood as well as establishing time and place. Warm browns, greens, and golds predominate; a spread showing the family’s necessarily clandestine departure glows with the striking pink of a predawn sky. Paneled endpapers depicting Black people migrating North via foot, train, bus, and car are particularly effective.

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Interests
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