Jennifer's Reviews > Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground by Shane W. Evans
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Apr 09, 12

bookshelves: african-american, red-picture, library-copy, reviewed, 2012
Read in April, 2012

The blue collage illustrations are hauntingly appropriate, so much so that I got goosebumps around page five, and they didn't go away until the ending when my emotions shifted over to relieved tears. There is no question that this deserved the Coretta Scott King illustration award, and I can only hope it was just a whisker's breadth away from a Caldecott Honor because Underground is a superlative example of how art can bring powerful, new life to a familiar story.

Evans' simple text also shines. These simplest-possible sentences are a world away from "See Dick run." Instead, the reader is left feeling that a page which only says, "We crawl," must be limited because of the narrator's exhaustion and fear of discovery. As an ESL teacher, I further appreciate the skillful and appropriate simplicity because it (hopefully) helps older students read the book without feeling condescended to.

Evans has joined Kadir Nelson, Bryan Collier, and the other authors and illustrators who are producing books on black history and culture which can also be held up as examples of the great artistic merit that nonfiction books can also - should also - possess. I hope the artists creating books in other disciplines take note.
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