Allison Lassieur once lived in Tennessee and traveled the path Hattie and her family might have followed from Nashville to the banks of the Mississippi River near Memphis. Today she lives in upstate New York and shares a 110-year-old house with her husband, her daughter, three dogs, two cats, and more history books than she can count. Eric Freeberg has illustrated over twenty-five books for children, and has created work for magazines and ad campaigns. He was a winner of the 2010 London Book Fair's Children's Illustration Competition; the 2010 Holbein Prize for Fantasy Art, International Illustration Competition, Japan Illustrators' Association; Runner-Up, 2013 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award; Honorable Mention, 2009 SCBWI Don Freeman Portfolio Competition; and 2nd Prize, 2009 Clymer Museum's Annual Illustration Invitational. He was also a winner of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award.
"This well-written volume fills a major gap in historical fiction."
-- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Hattie's parents decide to join the movement of free blacks from their home state of Tennessee west to Kansas for the opportunities in bourgeoning black communities, but the journey is harder than they anticipated. Since Emancipation, Hattie's parents have sought every opportunity, from pursuing education to opening a successful blacksmith shop. They work hard but want for nothing: Their community supports Papa's business, Hattie's teacher believes in her, and while the white woman for whom Hattie does chores is unpleasant company, she pays Hattie a helpful wage. But a man named Singleton comes to town announcing opportunities in Kansasincluding free land and all-black towns. When the harassment from Papa's former master becomes violent, Hattie's parents decide to make the long journey. The perils along the way are no Little House adventure, and when they arrive, they are disappointed with the basic living conditions compared to where they came from. Yet the story is more suspenseful than scary, and Hattie's happy, loving, free black family shows a side of American history not often pictured. Historical details are seamlessly woven into the plot through Hattie's eyes, and half-page pencil illustrations bring her family to life. With cliffhangers and characters to care about, and enough homesteading to interest fans of books about "pioneers," this well-written volume fills a major gap in historical fiction. (author's note, photos, map) (Historical fiction. 8-12)" - Kirkus Reviews