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Eliza's Freedom Road

Eliza's Freedom Road

An Underground Railroad Diary

Illustrated by: Shadra Strickland
For Ages: 8 - 12
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It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, “ … travel the night … sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window.” All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine’s, Canada.
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  • Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | 
  • 160 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416958147 | 
  • January 2011 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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ELIZA'S FREEDOM ROAD

Through her research Jerdine Nolen creates a diary of the underground railroad and a young girl's pilgrimage.

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Read an Excerpt

Life with Abbey in Virginia


February 6’June 22, 1854

Monday, February 6, 1854
Alexandria, Virginia


I love to work in the kitchen, where I can be close to Abbey. One day I will work alongside her in the kitchen. She will teach me what she knows and I will serve a master and mistress. I do not know what else there is for me.

Abbey is my mistress’s cook. Mistress never worries to come to us here. All the time she says she is glad the kitchen is in the kitchen yard away from the house, where it is supposed to be. She does not like the heat or the cooking smells. But I do. I... see more

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About the Author

Jerdine Nolen
Photo credit: Pat Cummings

Jerdine Nolen

Jerdine Nolen is the author of many award-winning books for children, including Eliza’s Freedom Road, illustrated by Shadra Strickland; Raising Dragons, illustrated by Elise Primavera, which received the Christopher Award; and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm, illustrated by Mark Buehner, which won the Kentucky Bluegrass Award. She and Kadir Nelson collaborated on Thunder Rose, which School Library Journal called “a wonderful tale of joy and love”; and Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, which received the Society of Illustrators’ Gold Medal. Jerdine Nolen lives with her family in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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