________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008


Hurry, Freedom. (Canadian Flyer Adventures; 7).

Frieda Wishinsky. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2008.
81 pp., pbk. &hc., $6.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-15-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-14-4 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Underground Railroad-Canada-Juvenile fiction.
Fugitive slaves-United States-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Saache Heinrich.




"Why is this called the Underground Railroad?" asked Emily.

"It is not a real railroad, of course," said Dr. Ross, as they shut the secret door behind them. "It is a network of escape routes and safe houses like this one. Those of us who help bring slaves to freedom are called conductors. And those of us who provide a safe haven, like the owners of this house, are called station masters. We work in secret. It is as if we were underground."


This, the seventh installment in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures," chronicles the adventure best friends Matt Martinez and Emily Bing embark on when their magic time-traveling sled takes them to 1858. As each story in the series opens, the children find an article (this time a black and white feather labeled "Underground Railroad, October 1858") in the old dresser in the attic that points them to the era to which they will be transported. Once they hop aboard their magical sled and rub the shimmery gold letters around the maple leaf painted on their Canadian Flyer, they are on their way! "Rub the leaf Three times fast Soon you'll fly To the past."

internal art     Thinking they are embarking on an adventure to see the first subway system, the pair hop aboard their Canadian Flyer sled and end up in a dark, smelly room where they find the word "PUSH" carved into the wall. Uncovering a secret door, the pair ends up outside and wondering where the Underground Railroad actually is when all they see is a horse and wagon. This is where they meet Dr. Alexander Ross, a Canadian who used his interest in birds as an excuse to travel to the southern United States to help slaves escape to freedom. The pair also meets an African American woman and her twin boys, aged six, as well as another girl who is about 10-years-old. The adventure really begins as they spend the night trying to smuggle the slaves across the border and into Canada. While attempting to cross the bridge over Niagara Falls between the United States and Canada, the group is forced to turn around when they hear the dogs and slave catchers close by. With the slave catchers keeping watch on the bridge, they, led by Harriet Tubman, have no choice but to cross into Canada by raft.

      Wishinksy's "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series continues to provide early chapter readers with a perspective into Canadian history while filling them with adventure and some humour. Protagonists Matt and Emily are easily likeable characters who will appeal both to boys and girls. Because Wishinksy wisely provides readers with an opening "How it all began," they do not have to read this series sequentially. And as usual, Dean Griffiths' wonderful pencil illustrations hit the mark with their relevance to the storyline. The "Top Ten Facts" located at the back of the book are provided by characters Emily and Matt and author Frieda Wishinsky, and they offer additional information about the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman and Canadian Alexander Ross.

      Hurry, Freedom introduces the Underground Railroad in a very accessible way to young readers as well as relaying Canada's contribution and significance to this period of history. It acts as a wonderful introduction to this topic and will no doubt pique interest in further reading. As a side note, Maple Tree Press has created a wonderful website for the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" with links provided for kids and teachers/librarians that is worth seeing (www.mapletreepress.com/canadianflyeradventures).

Highly Recommended.

Saache Heinrich is the Youth Services Manager for Wheatland Regional Library in Saskatchewan.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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