Translated by Sian Williams
Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
The Italian author Francesco D’Adamo has written a book which, while charming, explores the pursuit of freedom as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old child. A boy born into slavery in mid-nineteenth century America. The book also reflects what is meant by freedom, concepts which are paralleled all too pertinently in present day migration crises throughout the world.
Tommy, together with his family leave the only place they have known, Captain Archer’s cotton plantation in Alabama. They have been told about an Underground Railroad, which, if followed will deliver them to a new life of freedom in Canada.
They are guided by Peg Leg Joe, a mysterious former slave who knows how to get to the Underground Railroad and where to find safe accommodation on the treacherous route.
While the group start their dangerous journey, they are pursued by the plantation’s brutal overseer, the gun and whip-wielding Jiff Kniff. Peg Leg Joe shows Tommy how to use secret codes hidden within the lyrics of slave-songs, and how to read star constellations, notably The Drinking Gourd, to help them progress towards their goal of freedom.
The book is a well-researched novel which left me wanting to find out more about the real-life Underground Railroad which helped 100,000 slaves reach free states and Canada.
Oh, Freedom! is an exciting, compelling and fascinating story, targeted at a readership of 8-12. However, I would happily recommend it for readers aged 8 to adult.
RRP: £6.99 (paperback)
Available to buy from Darf Publishers here.