price of freedom

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

In 1856, John Price and two other slaves escaped to Ohio and freedom.  But the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was in effect and even free states were required to allow slave owners to capture escaped slaves anywhere in the United States.  John and his friend Frank spent the winter in Oberlin, Ohio, a hub of Underground Railroad activity.  They decided to stay and not travel to the safety of Canada.  So when a group of slave catchers came to Oberlin specifically hunting for John and Frank, the residents of the city had no legal grounds to help the two men.  When John was captured though, the city rose up against the slave catchers, forcing a showdown that would be one of the defining moments in fueling the Civil War.

Filled with informational facts, this book reads more like a fictional story thanks to its inherent drama.  It begins with John Price’s escape across the ice on stolen horses, continues through the Underground Railroad but the most amazing part is the final showdown, where your heart almost stops with the bravery and daring the Rescuers demonstrate. Fradin offers just the right mix of information and heroism.

Velasquez’s illustrations add to the dramatic feel of the narrative with their deep rich colors, drawn guns and historical details.  There are so many gorgeous night images filled with danger but also with hope.

This is a nonfiction picture book that is sure to inform children about an aspect of slavery that they will not have heard of as well as a tale of what a group of brave citizens can do.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.