Unspoken

I recently did a post about an alphabet book called ABC USA. I mentioned in the post that we had a discussion about the underground railroad. Macy and I both were not familiar with the underground railroad and had to look it up. Well, Mrs Gruener from Corner on Character recommended a book about that underground railroad that she thought I might like.

We came across this book at our favorite book stop – Half Price Books – and decided that we needed to check it out. The book is Unspoken by Henry Cole. (Click his name for a link to his awesome website!) It is a stunning book. It was published by Scholastic Press in 2012. There are no words here – only beautiful charcoal drawings to tell the story.

IMG_2337My best girl Brenna was home to “read” it to me.

It’s a bit of a spooky book. All the illustrations are lovely but dark. Dark skies, dark rooms, trees with no leaves, and eyes peering through corn stalks and doors.

We see a young girl out doing her farm chores. Looking pretty happy with her chickens and her sweet cow and kitty. But when she goes to collect vegetables from the vegetable barn she sees a big eye staring at her from the corn. This vegetable barn was a new thing for me. I guess they didn’t have a refrigerator, but instead had a whole barn for all their food stuff. Anyway, the girl worries about whoever is in her corn but starts taking food to them. She doesn’t tell any adults about it. Who is it and should she tell?

IMG_2338I didn’t know the answer to either of those questions until we read the author’s note at the end. Mr Cole explains the whole story. It’s about the Civil War and runaway slaves and kind folks who kept those slaves hidden. I guess the eye in the corn was a slave. And that kind little girl took care of him/her.

Unspoken is a good title for the book. Everything is unspoken. No words in the story. The girl doesn’t speak of her secret. The eye in the corn doesn’t talk. The soldiers riding through the farm don’t say anything to anyone. Mealtimes are quiet, prayerful events. The slave hunters seem to be very outspoken. But they’re the only ones.

This is a powerful book. It’s nice to have the story at the end, but the pictures themselves are quite incredible. This would be an excellent book for a class studying slavery and the underground railroad. I now know what that underground railroad was. It was all about secrecy — good deeds unspoken, deeds of bravery unspoken.

National Geographic has a cool interactive webpage about the underground railroad here.

There is a National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio if you happen to be in that area.

Here’s an interesting video all about the railroad —

And Richie Havens singing a railroad song –

Carl’s Christmas

It’s Friday. That means the Mom Person is gone. The Big Guy With the Treats is gone. All gone. Gone to California.

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Romeo’s Dad Person will be here with us. And he’s a pretty good guy. He’ll do for awhile I guess. Aahhummm.

Well — it’s also Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Hill’s!

I’ve picked out a quiet Christmas book. Quiet as in no words. It’s a no words kind of Friday. I like picture books with no words. That way when we read them with kids, I get a new story every time!! The book I’ve decided to share is Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day.

IMG_5828It was published in 1990 by Farrar Straus Giroux. It’s a fiction book suitable for all ages. I’ve read this book with 2 yr olds and adults. And everybody has there own personal take on the story.

Carl is a rottweiler with some big responsibilities that he takes very seriously. His Big People are always leaving him in charge of the baby! And they sure have fun together while those adults are away! In this Christmas book, Carl and the baby do some Christmas wrapping and decorating then go out to see the town. They enjoy the Christmas windows, win a Christmas basket from a store, give to the needy, go carolling, then realize that they might be missing Santa!! They rush back home and sit and wait for the Jolly Guy. I won’t tell you the end tho!! Whew!!

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Carl is my hero. He’s always taking care of that baby and having great adventures while he’s doing it! Ms Day’s artwork is fabulous. Carl’s world just pops out at you. Reading these mostly wordless books gets your imagination fired up. Kids have to study the pictures to see what all is going on. They have to stretch their vocabularies. No words on the printed page is sometimes a very good thing.

Melissa Taylor at Imagination Soup has a great post about wordless books with lots of things that you can do with them. You should check it out.

And Carl has a website that you might find fun.

Check out more PPBF at Susanna Hill’s blog.

And I’ll end with a little James Taylor for my Mom Person so far away — I’ll be watching for her Everyday!