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The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad
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The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad

(I Can Read: Level 3)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The stars of the Big Dipper have led a runaway slave family to Deacon Fuller's house, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Will Tommy Fuller be able to hide the runaways from a search partyor will the secret passengers be discovered and their hope for freedom destroyed?

This Level 3 I Can Read book is a captivating first-person historical fiction account of the Underground
Paperback, 64 pages
Published September 7th 1983 by HarperCollins (first published June 9th 1970)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  473 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by my 7 year old daughter!

Its actually a very moving and inspiring historical piece for young readers on the subject of slavery and helping other human beings seek safety and justice.
Mr. Cody
An excellent teaching tool. 1st-3rd grade.
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
DS read this in conjunction with a Harriet Tubman book. This is about a kid who discovers that there are runaway slaves hiding in his barn. It turns out his dad is part of the Underground Railroad, and the boy has stumbled on to the secret.
There is one part where the boy has to lie to keep the runaway slaves safe and hidden, so this may be confusing for really little kids. But it makes for good conversation.

If you are Canadian, you may like this book because it emphasizes that the runaway
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a dramatic account of one family being transported up north to Canada along the Underground Railroad. It is fictional, but tells about the danger the runaways and abolitionists faced as well as the support they received along the way north. We followed along with the book as we listened to the narration on CD. It was narrated much better than I ever could and we loved the song at the beginning of the story - we listened to it several times.
Joshua Lawson
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great story to help teach kids about the evil of slavery and the moral courage of the men and women who opposed it. I read it to my children, ages 5-8, and they were genuinely engaged by it.
Jordan Chisholm
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has won no awards

Appropriate grade level(s) are 3rd-4th

This books tells a story about the underground railroad. The story is told by a 10 year old boy fighting for freedom and equality. The boy helps escaped slaves on the underground railroad make their way to freedom.

I thought this book was pretty good. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I have always loved stories like the drinking gourd. This is one of the stories I remember reading in elementary school and that really
A young boy is sent home early for disrupting church and accidentally finds a runaway slave with his family hiding in the barn hayloft. That night his father takes his son and the family to the next station along the underground railroad explaining along the way why he helps slaves escape to freedom. While the father is out looking for the boat to deliver them, the authorities appear and want to search the hay wagon for a runaway slave and his family. Thinking quickly the young boy then ...more
Amy Meyers
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I feel a little silly adding this to my record of books this year. It only takes 10 minutes to read, being a book for 2-3rd graders on the Underground Railroad. I didn't realize when I put it in a stack of books I'm reading ahead to know what to assign my kids next year that it was such a young level. I didn't like the boy's lie, but I did like the portrayal of Northerners who hated being caught between their consciences and breaking the law. I think it is a fair portrayal of one of the reasons ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
It surprises me that all the reviews, if not the stars, for this book are good.

This book just seemed unrealistic. Big Jeff, one of the slaves escaping, describes himself as valuable property. His son Little Jeff, talks more like a modern child would when encountering Tommy. It goes something like, What do you mean you don't know about the underground railroad?! About following the drinking gourd?!

Then they just go right out the barn door so Little Jeff can show it to him in the sky. Not worried
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I love reading about the Underground Railroad so it was fun to read this book. The illustrations are alright and I thought I wouldn't like this book, but it surprised me. It starts off in a church and I was confused as to where this is going, but then it got interesting. I recommend for beginner readers! It's a level 3 book so this is good when they can read alone.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Big Dipper constellation led slaves North, where they hoped to escape into Canada. When a family of slaves arrives at Deacon Fuller's house (which is a stop on the Underground Railroad) can young Tommy Fuller hide the family from people looking to capture them and take them back? Or will the family's journey to freedom stop short? Read this book for the answers to these and other questions!
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love the legend of the Drinking Gourd, but this story, despite being a classic is still comes across as racist to me. The story is about a little white boy learning about slavery and how its wrong, there is a hood moral in the end, but still it was just an awkward read. There are better books out there to help children learn about American Slavery. ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book with my second graders. It was a wonderful way to introduce my students to this part of American history and I'm using it to open an on-going reading section on African American history. Really wonderful teaching tool.
Simone Tournemile
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book with my class in the newspaper and it was a very good book! I always love books about the Underground Railroad but this one was definitely near the top of my list. The characters and their back stories were very interesting.
Etta Mcquade
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This nicely illustrative and well-written book for Grades 2 to 4 should help the younger child realize the importance of the Underground Railroad and how individuals took risks to help the slaves escape to Canada.
Jacqueline P.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
My class really enjoyed hearing this story. It made the journey African Americans took to freedom come to life in a manner that was understandable for second graders.
Andy Hickman
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful short story about assisting runaway slaves.
The injustice of slavery and therefore all forms of inequality should be a narrative we continue to remind ourselves about.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great choice for every bookshelf
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I find that books written for young readers are shallow, but this one felt like it could actually start conversations about other subjects! Id recommend this to other teachers. ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great way to introduce children to the history of the Underground Railroad!
Tori Williford
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
After getting in trouble and being sent home from church, Tommy discovers a slave family hiding inside the barn. Tommys father is a conductor of the Underground Railroad and is helping this family move to the next station. Tommy accompanies his father to take the slaves and learns a lot in just one night. This historical fiction is great for beginning readers. It provides facts about slavery and this time period through an engaging and interesting story. The text is easy to read so it would make ...more
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story which takes place prior to the Civil War is a touching story of a young boys discovery of his fathers secret. Tommy is about ten years old. One Sunday, he and his family are in church. The service is long and Tommy gets restless. He gets in trouble and is sent home by his father. Once home, he goes into the barn and finds out his father has been hiding a very big secret. Tommy uncovers a family of runaway slaves in their barn. His father, Deacon Fuller, is a conductor on the Underground ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Drinking Gourd, by F.N. Monjo, tells the story of Tommy Fuller. Tommy gets into trouble at church, so his father sends him home. While playing in the barn, Tommy finds a slave family hiding there. They are on the run to Canada, with the help of Tommy's father. I really enjoyed this story. It is like a picture book, but it is longer. I like this because the reader can get more information, which is definitely necessary when learning about the Underground Railroad. The illustrations are very ...more
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
The genre of this book is historical fiction, and is intended for children (I) ages eight to twelve. This story tells all about the drinking gourd (big dipper) and the underground railroad. It tells of a family who helped slaves hide, and make their way to freedom. It teaches children that this family was breaking the law, but it was the right thing for them to do. This is a great book to use to teach children about slavery and what happened back then. The vocabulary is easy to understand and ...more
Jaclyn Sibley
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Summary:Tommy Fuller is a ten year old boy who finds himself sent home after getting in trouble. He goes to his barn and finds a slave family living there. He then found out his family's secret: they were helping this slave family escape to freedom. Tommy soon starts to help out.
Review:I think this is a very interesting book that touches on the start of the Civil War. I like how the perspective is from Tommy, making it easier to read and relate to. This book shows the kindness and bravery that
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
grades 1-3

This book is a great entry way into slavery for children. It is a book that depicts the underground railroad through the tale of two boys. The one black boy is following the drinking gourd (Big Dipper) to find his way north to freedom. This book can give children the scaffolding they need to begin to learn about such a large and complex topic.

I think this book is perfect to start children learning about slavery and the migration of blacks to the north. There are many other children's
Allie 2
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Royce Owen
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a good first introduction for young student to the Underground Railroad and the plight of slaves trying to escape to freedom. I used it with first graders, and supplemented it with some picture books that I had about the topic and they all came away with a good understanding of how horrible slavery was and why it was necessary for some people, like Deacon Fulton, to break the law to help the slaves.
Books Kids Like
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tommy Fuller gets in trouble at church and is sent home. There he finds a black family hiding in the barn's loft. Tommy finds out that his father is part of the Underground Railroad and gets a chance to help him drive the runaway slaves to the next station. When a U. S. marshal finds Tommy at the reins of his father's hay wagon, Tommy convinces him that he is the one running away. It's a nice twist to read about a mischievous boy who decides to help someone else.
Ouida Robinson
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author: F.N. Monjo

Title: The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad

Plot: This story tells of the family journey through the underground railroad to freedom.

Characters: Father and Son

Setting: In the south during slavery time

Theme: Slavery; the Underground Railroad, Abolitionist

Style: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 1970

Notes: This is a good book to use to teach about slavery and the Underground Railroad.

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F.N. Monjo. Ferdinand Nicolas Monjo (1924-1978) was a children's novelist and editor. After graduating from Columbia University, he worked in editorial positions at several major children's publishing companies, including Simon & Schuster's Golden Books and American Heritage's Junior Library.
His grandfather, also named F.N. Monjo, was an Arctic furrier.

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