Friday, May 31, 2013

PPBF: Unspoken, A Story from the Underground Railroad

Today's pick

Unspoken, A Story from the Underground Railroad
Written and Illustrated
by Henry Cole

Scholastic, 2012, Historical Fiction, ages 6-9, wordless

Civil War, slavery, history, decision-making

Opening: The story begins with the main character watching Confederate soldiers riding past her farm.

This wordless picture book is based on events in Henry Cole's family history. When a runaway slave hides on the family farm on his way north, a little girl must decide between right and wrong, compassion and duty.

Courtesy Henry Cole

What I Love:
Being wordless gives it a secretive air. Being rendered in pencil evokes not only a historical tone, but a pensive mood appropriate for the moral struggle it portrays. The fascinating back matter explains more about the Cole family history, setting, and the impetus for the books creation. Unspoken is a beautiful book which begs discussion of important subjects: human rights, loyalty vs virtue, moral decision-making.

Visit Loudoun County, VA
1. Visit a civil war or underground railroad historic sites. Don't forget to discuss.
2. Sharpen your non-verbal skills. Tell a story in pantomime or play some charades.
3. Revisit your own family history by rummaging through old photos and telling family stories and legends.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for May 31, 2013 from Susanna Leonard Hill.

A more detailed synopsis for last week's pick: Tallulah's Tutu will be posted here tomorrow, but linked from this post. Thanks.


  1. I LOVE the pencil!

    1. His work really is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with me.

  2. I like wordless picture books myself. They are currently a challenge for my kid, I think he is too young for them. But I can't wait until we are old enough to read this one.

    1. Like me, you can add it to your ridiculously long list of future reads. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Wow! A wordless picture book about the underground railroad? I have to find this one! I love the pencil drawings, and I think you're right about the air of secrecy the wordlessness gives it. Thanks for sharing this one, Joanne - it looks great!

    1. I 'm so glad you like it. think it'll live up to your expectations. Thanks.


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