Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ellen Craft's Escape from Slavery

Ellen Craft's Escape from Slavery

Cathy Moore
Illustrator:  Mark Braught 
For ages 7 to 9
Millbrook Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0761358756

Ellen Craft and her husband William were slaves living on a plantation in Georgia. The couple hated the system of slavery that existed in the United States at that time, and they had decided that they would not have children because of it. Slave children were often taken away from their parents and sold, just as Ellen herself was.

Ellen and William often talked about running away to Philadelphia, which was a free city in the North. Unfortunately, the city was a thousand miles away, and if Ellen and William did run away, slave catchers would soon be sent after them.

Carefully Ellen and William put together a plan. Ellen had fair skin, so she would dress up and pretend to be a white man. William would be her slave. To hide her smooth woman’s face, Ellen wore a bandage around her head. To hide the fact that she could not write, Ellen put her right arm in a sling. Hopefully, if she was asked to sign or write something, she could ask someone else to do the writing for her. Ellen and William knew that their journey would be fraught with danger, but they felt that it was worth the risk.

This is a true story about real people who risked their lives so that they could be free. The narrative is engaging and easy to follow, and in the back of the book there is a play script that young readers can use to act out the story of Ellen and William Craft.