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The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  281 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
When John Price took a chance at freedom by crossing the frozen Ohio river from Kentucky into Ohio one January night in 1856, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was fully enforced in every state of the union. But the townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio, believed there that all people deserved to be free, so Price started a new life in town-until a crew of slave-catchers arrived and a ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Walker Childrens
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Feb 05, 2014 Gerry rated it liked it
The Price of Freedom is an inspiring story; but I'm sorry to say that the writing is not at all inspired. The artwork was beautiful and moody, and I appreciate that the text tells about an obscure but important part of our American history. However, while the Price of Freedom attempts to serve up many features that educators will seek out in support of common core standards (narrative nonfiction, different perspectives, cause & effect, primary sources, author's notes, subject matter that wil ...more
Alex Baugh
Aug 30, 2013 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
In 1856, freedom was just across the river in Ohio for Kentucky slaves Dinah, John and Frank. One frigid cold night, the three took horses from their master's barn and rode across the frozen river. On the other side, they met an elderly Quaker who sheltered the frozen runaways. After for two weeks. Dinah went her own way and John and Frank headed north together.

The two men had to keep going, hoping to reach Canada before they were caught because Congress had just passed the Fugitive Slave Act o
Mar 01, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing
In 1856, John Price and two other slaves escaped to Ohio and freedom. But the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was in effect and even free states were required to allow slave owners to capture escaped slaves anywhere in the United States. John and his friend Frank spent the winter in Oberlin, Ohio, a hub of Underground Railroad activity. They decided to stay and not travel to the safety of Canada. So when a group of slave catchers came to Oberlin specifically hunting for John and Frank, the residents ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing
A very small story to read about the heroics of a small town in Ohio who helped 2 runaway slaves (John and Frank). This would be a great story to introduce in a classroom to explain (in detail) key events that happened towards the end of slavery and especially the Fugitive Slave Act and how it impacted the country.

After departing from their 3rd counterpart (Dinah), John and Frank voyaged north from Kentucky to escape slavery and gain their freedom. Just when they thought they were going to be s
Apr 12, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture, non-fiction, 2013
I had high expectations for this book, especially after receiving several stellar non-fiction picture books from JLG recently. While it does tell the story of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, it doesn't really tell a story so much as relay the facts. The text reads as a sequence of events with little detail about the motivation or feelings of the characters and virtually no story arc. For a story that is described on the jacket as "one of the most dramatic slave rescues in American history," there ...more
Full review at:

In 1856, John Price, his cousin, and a friend risked their lives to cross the Ohio River in hopes of finding freedom on the other side. As slaves, leaving Kentucky and making their way into Ohio was the only way to even hope for freedom. However, the real goal was to get to Canada since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stated that slaves could still be returned to their owners if caught in a free state. On his way to trying to get to Canada, J
Oct 12, 2013 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history students and teachers of primary grade history
I predict this will win some awards this coming year when the ALA awards are announced. I think it is a shame he never got much recognition for his writing. After a quick check I find that he has won several awards but never anything from ALA. I wonder if this isn't some snobbery at ALA? He got his start writing series nonfiction on the fifty states for Children Press. So he wrote to a format. I certainly consider the Children's Press state and country series the standard to try to beat. They ar ...more
Lexie Hoffmann
My rationale for selecting The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery for my primary twin text is it gives a true account of a slave's journey from escaping the South to the North.
What makes this text particularly unique is the story itself is not just about a slaver, rather it is about the town that assisted him in staying free when the slave captures came to get him. The story is told in a way that illustrates the growing tension between the North and South and how that tension re
Melissa Dwyer
Nov 03, 2015 Melissa Dwyer rated it really liked it
Originally rated G+ by Annette Sirio
Although picture book format, highly appropriate story for middle school as well. Excellent illustrations convey true story that warrants repeating.

The picture-book format is highly effective in conveying the power of the story. In Velasquez's dramatic mixed-media and oil paintings, determination shows in the stance of the figures and the set of their facial features. The book design is masterful. The front cover highlights John Price, surrounded by some o
Jean Coughlin
Mar 29, 2014 Jean Coughlin rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction

Twin Text: Unspoken by Henry Cole, @2012

Rationale: The book Unspoken is a wordless book. It is a story of a girl who, going about her chores, notices someone hidden in the family storage shed. Afraid at first, she realizes what is going on. As her family shows silence of knowledge, she too keeps silent, but nightly brings food to the person. Her whole family keeps silent as men looking for the fugitive question them. The last frame shows that the person is gone and has left a corn shuck doll for
Jim Erekson
Sep 24, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it it was ok
The focus on a specific historical incident is something I usually like. And John Price's rescue is a dramatic and gripping story. Maybe I'm in a bad mood this week, but I found it annoying that so little was done to make the visual experience of this story complementary to the text. While the pictures could probably stand on their own as a storyboard of this narrative, they mirror the words almost exactly. Velasquez moves back and forth between a somewhat impressionistic style and a photorealis ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
Judith and Dennis Fradin's short, illustrated book tells the story of a group of Ohio residents who thwart the capture of a runaway slave. Kentucky slaves John Price, his cousin Dinah and their friend Frank followed the underground railroad into Ohio in January of 1856. They intended to go to Canada where their freedom would be guaranteed, but they decided to stay in the welcoming town of Oberlin. In October of that year, several slave hunters arrived in Oberlin to find the men. With the help of ...more
After escaping across the Ohio River to freedom with two other former slaves, John Price settles in Oberlin, Ohio. But two years later, in 1858, slave hunters kidnap him and plan to bring him back to Kentucky. His fellow citizens refuse to let that happen, and storm the hotel where he's being held and free him. Although his fate is unknown, what is known is that the United States government charged and imprisoned 37 men who aiding him. This incident, which became known as the Oberlin-Wellington ...more
Apr 07, 2013 Liz rated it it was amazing
I have read quite a few books by the Fradins lately, and I have enjoyed each one, and respect/appreciate the research that has been done to accurately portray the many historical events that they have written about. (So sorry to also read the Dennis Fradin passed away in August 2012.)
This book is such an interesting story...of another event in our history that I knew nothing about. (I believe I've been saying that a lot lately with my readings!) It's important that we share with children all as
Marinna Bressel
John Price took a chance at freedom by crossing the frozen Ohio river from Kentucky into Ohio one January night in 1856, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was fully enforced in every state of the union. The townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio, believed there that all people deserved to be free, so Price started a new life in town until a crew of slave catchers arrived and captured him. When the residents of Oberlin heard of his capture, many of them banded together to demand his release and risked their o ...more
During the time preceding the Civil War, the town of Oberlin, Ohio was known for its abolitionist beliefs and it was the busiest stop on the Underground Railroad, having sheltered 3,000 runaway slaves between the 1830s and 1850s. THE PRICE OF FREEDOM is the story of how the entire town of Oberlin rallied around John Price, an escaped slave who had been living in Oberlin when we was captured and was going to be sent back to his owner. Even though Ohio was in the North and outlawed slavery, The Fu ...more
This is a wonderful nonfiction picture book about the town of Oberlin, OH in 1858. The town was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad because it sits on the shores of Lake Erie, right across from Canada. Many escaped slaves ended up making their home there, and John was one of them. In September, 1858, John was captures by slave hunters and taken to a nearby town, Wellington. When the people of Oberlin heard about the capture, many of them raced to Wellington with the purpose of free ...more
John Price and his friends had escaped from slavery, and made it to Oberlin, Ohio. This college town was known for its predominant belief that slavery was wrong, and many of its citizens were so strong in this belief that they were part of the Underground Railroad, helping ex-slaves escape to Canada or other locations where they could remain free.
John and a friend chose to remain in Oberlin, rather than continue on to Canada, but their former master sent slave hunters after them. This led to a s
Penny Peck
Jul 05, 2013 Penny Peck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
Sometimes one incident can help convey a broader history lesson - that is the case with THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. Focusing on one escaped slave who was helped by the citizens of Oberlin to avoid returning to his "owner" in Kentucky, this brief factual picture book would be perfect to kick off a lesson on the causes of the Civil War, or on the Underground Railroad. The brief but emotionally engaging text reads like a story, and the realistic oil paintings that illustrate the book are excellent, espec ...more
Mar 22, 2014 Allie rated it really liked it
John Price, his cousin and a friend are running to the north. On the way John Price gets taken by slave hunters. Jennings, a slave hunter, takes Price to a hotel to wait for the next trail to go back to KY. The town members surround the hotel and demand for Jennings to let Price go. The town members enter the hotel and take Price. The town hides price from the slave hunters. This a great book to open the conversation about is it right to break a law even if it is for a good cause. I would use th ...more
Being a history nerd, particularly when it comes to the Civil War era, I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of the "Oberlin-Wellington Rescue" until I read this book. I found the story to be inspiring and the illustations fantastic!

This is a story about a town (Oberlin, OH to be exact) who collectively stood up against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, believing that there was a "higher law" that trumped it.

Escaped slave John Price had been living in Oberlin for two years when a slave hunter
It was a wintry night in 1856 when John Price, his cousin, and a friend escaped from slavery in Kentucky, making their way through the nation’s busiest Underground Railroad in Oberlin, Ohio. Mixed media and oil paintings emphasize the intensity of John’s kidnapping by slave hunters and his dramatic rescue by the people of Oberlin. Although the Oberlin Rescuers were tried and then imprisoned for three months for defying the Fugitive Slave Law, they were proud of their actions, which fanned sparks ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-kids, nonfiction
I don't usually log picture books here because I read so many in my line of work. But this was really a cut above the rest. It's the story about how the town of Oberlin rescued a fugitive slave who'd been recaptured to take back to Kentucky. It's an exciting read and the Fradins are spare enough with their words to make it an effective read-aloud (probably for 5 and up) but no so spare as to leave out too much. It's a great story of how powerful a united community is in making change happen. It' ...more
I think this an uninteresting book about a very interesting and important story. It starts out telling the story in a way that makes you think the runaway slaves are the focus, but then shifts halfway through to a very dry retelling of the rescue timeline. The many rescuers are not well differentiated. Random facts are included about the rescuers in ways that slow the momentum of the story. It may have been more effective to tell the story from the point of view of one of the rescuers. Perhaps b ...more
Cheiree Domet
Twin text - "The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington's Slave Finds Freedom" by Emily Arnold McCully (2007).

"The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery" was about a town that protected former slaves who chose to live there. In "The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington's Slave Finds Freedom" she was protected by people in her town when she found freedom also. Both books explain how people helped slaves escape and how they, and others, helped protect their freedom.

Both of these b
Mar 28, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing
"No fugitive slave shall ever be taken from Oberlin either with or without a warrant, if we have power to prevent it."

The town of Oberlin, Ohio was an active stop on the underground railroad. As a town, they felt that there was "a higher law than the Fugitive Slave Act." And they acted accordingly, even going en mass to stop a slave catcher from taking John Price back to his master in the South. Even though many of those who participated served jail time, they continued to practice this belief.
This is the non-fiction account of a town in Ohio that rallied together in the 1800s to prevent slavery. They housed and welcomed escaped slaves on their way to Canada. They were so welcoming that many slaves decided to stay there instead of continuing on their way! The town faced many challenges with the government and were punished for disobeying national laws, but in the end, good won out with the end of slavery after the Civil War ended.
This is a great way for kids to learn more about the hi
Cierra Henderson
May 16, 2016 Cierra Henderson rated it it was amazing
This book is about a slave who ran away to the North but decided to stay in Ohio because he felt at home there. Slave catchers came up and kidnapped him to take him back to his slave owner. The entire town protests and helps him escape so he doesn't have to go back to slavery. The illustrations are detailed and show a lot of emotion with how every character is feeling. I would recommend this book to a lot of people who enjoy diversity and knowing right from wrong and how that can be difficult to ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
I love books like this that introduce me to historical events of which I have previously been ignorant. This book recounts the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue that pitted abolitionists against slave hunters. The Rescuers violate the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in order to save a runaway slave named John Price. The Rescuers put their freedom and lives on the line in order to help their fellow man. I don't mean to diminish the importance of this story by saying this, but how has this story not been made ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Shelli rated it it was amazing
This is a touching true story of Oberlin, Ohio a town whose nearly entire population worked to help runaway slaves and stood tall against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. My daughter and I had read numerous books on the Underground Railroad while covering pre-Civil War times, I don’t know how this one was overlooked, but it’s now one of my favorites that I would recommend it to elementary age students or older. Eric Velasquez stunning illustrations complement the story perfectly and showcase the ...more
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The award-winning author of nearly 300 non-fiction books for children and young adults, Dennis Fradin is known for his meticulous research, attention to detail and smooth, graceful writing.

Fradin attributes his success in part to years of teaching in the Chicago Public Schools. In order to hold his second graders’ attention at the end of the day, he would spin stories about crayons in distress and
More about Dennis Brindell Fradin...

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