Underground to Canada

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Underground to Canada is an historical novel for young readers by Barbara Smucker. It was first published in Canada in 1977 and published in the United States the following year as Runaway to Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railway. Based partially on a true story, the novel is set in the United States and Canada in the years leading up to the American Civil War and depicts the hard lives of slaves in the American South and the people who helped them escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad. The novel is studied in many Canadian schools.[1][2][3]

Plot[edit]

A young slave called Julilly and her mother, Mammy Sally, are sold apart when their owner, Massa Hensen falls ill. Julilly is taken to a plantation in Mississippi in the Deep South. There she meets Liza, another slave girl. Pursued by their master, the two girls and their friends, Lester and Adam, begin their escape from slavery. They make their way through the United States to Canada on the Underground Railroad with the help of Alexander Milton Ross, a Canadian abolitionist, eventually arriving safely, apart from Adam who dies of blood poisoning caused by his slave chains.

Publication history[edit]

Underground to Canada was first published in 1977. It was then republished with a new cover in 1999 by Puffin Classics,[4] and again for a 25th Anniversary Edition in 2013 by the same company.[5]

Challenges[edit]

Due to the use of the word "nigger" in the novel, many parents found the book upsetting and feared it would contribute to an emergence of racism in the classroom. Complaints were filed against the use of the book in a Manitoba classroom in 1998[6] and in a Nova Scotia classroom in 2002.[7] Those who disagreed with the novel being taught in their children’s classrooms disliked the image that it gave black people[8] and argued that it spoke too lightly of slavery. Lawrence Hill, the introductory speaker in the 25th Anniversary Edition of the book, agreed that it was a lighter speculation of a racist history, but that it also was written in a way for young readers to understand the barbaric situation.[9]

Honors and awards[edit]

Barbara Smucker won several awards over her career as a children's novelist, including Canada Council Children’s Literature Prize,[10][11][12] the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews,[13] the Vicky Metcalf Award,[14] the Violet Downey Book Award from IODE Canada,[15] and received additional honors from multiple secondary education institutions.[16]

Underground to Canada has received numerous international awards and honorable mentions since its creation.[17] Despite the challenges the book has faced, it has been awarded Children's Book Center (one of the 50 best books of all time in Canada),[18] IBBY Honour Book,[19] Brotherhood Award (National Conference of Christians and Jews),[20] All-Japan Library Committee and Catholic Teachers Association of West Germany,[21] 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up,[22] Vicky Metcalf Award,[23] Shalom Readers Club Book List[24] and many others.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Toledo Blade, "Author's Twelve Books Educated Children", 1 August 2003, p. B4
  2. ^ Nardaya Dipchand and Bruce Hill, Study Guide: Underground to Canada, Saskatchewan Schools Archived April 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Brian Thornton, Study Guide: Underground to Canada
  4. ^ "Underground To Canada by Barbara Smucker". Penguin Random House Canada. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Puffin Classics: Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Challenged Books and Magazines" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "Underground to Canada". www.freedomtoread.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  8. ^ "Underground to Canada". www.freedomtoread.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  9. ^ "CM Magazine: Underground to Canada. (Puffin Classics).". www.umanitoba.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  10. ^ "The Author". Underground to Canada. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  11. ^ JONES, RAYMOND E. "Barbara Smucker". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  12. ^ "Puffin Classics: Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  13. ^ "The Author". Underground to Canada. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  14. ^ "Puffin Classics: Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  15. ^ "Puffin Classics: Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  16. ^ "Smucker, Barbara Claassen (1915-2003) - GAMEO". gameo.org. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  17. ^ "Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker". LibraryThing.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  18. ^ "Children's Book Center | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  19. ^ "IBBY Honour Book | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  20. ^ "Brotherhood Award | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  21. ^ "All-Japan Library Committee and Catholic Teachers Association of West Germany | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  22. ^ "1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  23. ^ "Vicky Metcalf Award | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  24. ^ "Shalom Readers Club Book List | Book awards | LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 

External links[edit]