Title: Freedom’s Star
Author: Rebecca Martin
Series: Rebecca Martin Heritage series, book 5
Major Themes: Canada, Mennonites, Slavery, Underground Railroad
Synopsis: Two families want to go to Canada to live—a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania, and a slave family in Virginia.
For about 10 months now, we have been reading our way through a series of books Rebecca Martin wrote, following the journey of one family from the earliest Anabaptist times in Switzerland, to settling in Canada in the early 1800s. We enjoyed all the books to a certain extent, although we have wondered about the historical accuracy of many details. It is good to read stories from a nonresistant Christian perspective, rather than the secular books we mostly read.
Freedom’s Star tells the story of the beginnings of the Underground Railroad. Betsy and her family lived in Buckingham County, Pennsylvania. When a Quaker man approached them about hiding escaping slaves in their large house, they agreed to help. At the same time, Betsy’s father and married brothers were discussing moving to Upper Canada (now Ontario), where there was cheap land.
Jack and Rhoda and their family were slaves in Virginia. Jack was frequently whipped on the slightest pretext, and then his older sister overheard plans to sell him down south. The family immediately ran away. After finding help from friendly people, they were helped on their way north, and one of their stopping places was Betsy’s home.
As a story of the Underground Railroad, this is quite interesting. We wondered, however, how many slaves actually went all the way to Canada in 1816, when the story is set. Judging from other stories I’ve read, and the history I’ve studied, most slaves settled in the northern states before the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Also, this story has an escaped slave couple kidnapped from Canada and taken back to the Southern states—I had never heard of that happening. Also, in this story, crude stars were made from leg irons and taken by the slaves as signs to show the people who were helping them along their way. I never heard of that before. It makes a good story, though!
WARNING: As mentioned in last paragraph.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12