Illustrated by Charles Lilly; HarperCollins, 1998

Eliza and her baby, running across the ice. Selena and Cornelia Jackson, masquerading as boys. Henry Box Brown, shipping himself north in a wooden crate. Jane Johnson, risking everything to testify against her former owner in court. Ellen Craft, posing as her husband’s owner.

Escaping from slavery against overwhelming odds, these people were helped by courage, ingenuity, and the informal network known as the Underground Railroad. Here are their gripping stories, told by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Charles Lilly, and accompanied by information about slave laws of the era, key Underground Railroad leaders, and a bibliography.


  • Indiana Young Hoosier Award Nominee
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Board Award Masterlist
  • Garden State Book Award Masterlist
  • Sequoyah Children’s Book Award Masterlist, Oklahoma
  • Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee
  • Children’s Book Award Masterlist, Children’s Literature Association of Utah
  • Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, NCSS



“These inherently suspenseful accounts will intrigue readers of all ages.” Publishers Weekly

“Rappaport expresses the courage, determination, and ingenuity of black American slaves who risked their lives to attain freedom. These inherently suspenseful accounts will intrigue readers of all ages.” Booklist

“An accessible, well-organized book that gives a vivid picture of the heroism of these little-known Americans.” Kirkus Reviews

From the Author

It is estimated that 25,000 to 100,000 slaves escaped despite the overwhelming odds against making it. These are but a few of the stories of those courageous, ingenious Americans who risked their lives for freedom.


The River of Ice –
Desperate Crossing

It was too dangerous to stay any long. Eliza had to cross the river now or she would be captured. She stood up with Caroline in her harms. She nodded her silent thanks to Rosetta and George and raced out the cabin door toward the river.

With a sinking heart, Eliza realized that there was even more water between the massive ice chunks. She looked back at the cabin, then at the river path in either direction. There were figures in the distance hurrying toward her.

Her eyes followed the river to the other side.

“It not that far,” she whispered to Caroline, trying to encourage herself.

And when we get there, we gonna be free.”

Eliza stepped onto the ice.


Learn More

Study Guides

Kids Connect

About African American Artist Charles Lilly


The Underground Railroad (how the slaves escaped)
Cicely Tyson “Ain’t I a Woman?” – Congressional Tribute to Sojourner Truth, 2009.  First Lady Michelle Obama joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, other lawmakers and dignitaries on Capitol Hill to unveil a bust of Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century slave turned abolitionist who was also a fiery advocate for women’s rights.

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