April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Price of Freedom

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large white letters on blue background, male figures in forefrontFRADIN, Judith Bloom & Dennis Brindell Fradin. The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. illus. by Eric Velasquez. 48p. bibliog. further reading. photos. websites. Walker. Jan. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2166-2; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-8027-2167-9. LC 2012015781.
Gr 3-6–In 1856, John Price escaped from slavery in Kentucky by crossing the frozen Ohio River. Two years later, slave hunters arrived in Oberlin, Ohio, and attempted to take him back at gunpoint. Shopkeepers, farmers, teachers, and college students formed an armed group of Rescuers to release Price. Some members of the group were former slaves, risking their own freedom. Charged with violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Rescuers spent three months in jail. They returned home with a new purpose, vowing that “No fugitive slave shall ever be taken from Oberlin either with or without a warrant, if we have power to prevent it.” The picture-book format is highly effective in conveying the power of the story. In Velasquez’s dramatic mixed-media and oil paintings, determination shows in the stance of the figures and the set of their facial features. The book design is masterful. The front cover highlights John Price, surrounded by some of his champions. The back cover foreshadows a betrayal, with a hand dropping a gold coin into another hand, accompanied by the sentence, “How much is one man’s life worth?” On the endpapers, a dark, quiet view of the river sets the stage for the conflict to come. Full-page images and spreads draw readers directly into the action. The final image is an 1859 large-scale photo of the Rescuers taken in the courtyard of the jail. This book could be used as a nonfiction partner to Christopher Paul Curtis’s Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic, 2007) and as a resource in units about slavery, the Underground Railroad, or the Civil War.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA




  1. This is a great site! I love the book The Price of Freedom – it fits is perfectly with our Social Studies unit on migration; the Underground Railroad. Looking forward to purchasing it and sharing it with my students.