Cover Image: William Still and His Freedom Stories

William Still and His Freedom Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I had never heard of William Still before this book.. My students enjoyed all the different perspectives from the story and how it all came together. I enjoyed learning about how the Underground Railroad really came to be.
Was this review helpful?
This was a wonderful story and one that needed to be told. There are many things taught about slavery and freedom from it, but this story shows some unknown truths about families torn apart and the work done by many to help those families come back together. Beautifully written.
Was this review helpful?
I love learning about historical figures that are passed over by history textbooks. Don Tate brings his distinctive artwork and storytelling to this powerful book about a man who made a huge difference in the fight to free African-Americans from slavery. This book needs to be in classrooms and libraries everywhere to bring light to this overlooked story of the Underground Railroad. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this picture book.
Was this review helpful?
The inspiring story of William Still, an abolitionist, businessman, and author, who had been eulogized as "The Father of the Underground Railroad," yet few know his name. Still collected information about the men and women escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. Among these were the extraordinary stories of Henry "Box" Brown, who spent 28 hours in a wooden crate to freedom, and William and Ellen Craft, the latter fair enough to pose as a male slave owner with his slave. William Still's own family story was just as remarkable, reunited with his brother, Peter, who had been left behind when their parents escaped slavery. The illustrations are vibrant and the text easy to read. A great introduction to a lesser known champion of the abolitionist movement.
Was this review helpful?
William Still and His Freedom Stories should belong in every classroom, and every home around the country.  Tate does a beautiful job at illustrating and describing Stills life story.  There are still so many stories out there about the injustice of slavery, and this book will help children understand.  

As a teacher I will be including this story in my yearly read aloud books as well as my picture book library for students to read on their own.  In 5th grade we teach about Slavery in the colonies, the revolution, and the constitution.  This book will also serve as a great alternative resource for any teacher looking to expand children’s minds around the consequences of our founding fathers actions.  

I can’t get over the beautiful illustrations and poetic language of this book, and I can’t wait to go out and buy a copy for myself.  Thank you to NetGalley and Peachtree Publishing for a Digital Copy of this wonderful story.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a fabulous addition to our collection on slavery and the underground railroad.  It focuses on a lesser known part of the underground railroad, former slave William Still.  Still's desire to secretly record details of slaves to help families reunite helps readers understand the devastating impact of slavery on families.  This book is also a wonderful window on black entrepreneurship, during the Civil War period, which is not well developed in children's literature.
Was this review helpful?
I am so glad this book was written! This book is part biography and part historical account. It focuses on William Still's enslaved parents buying their freedom and escaping from the south and then follows William as he becomes involved in the Underground Railroad and recording accounts of other people who escaped. This book even mentions Henry "Box" Brown and Harriet "Moses" Tubman along with explaining how the Fugitive Slave Law impacted the Underground Railroad. I can't wait to read this book with my students! It's educational while also giving a lot of information to reflect on and consider. This made me think about the people who were held captive and had to fight for their lives with fresh eyes. What a great resource!
Was this review helpful?
This book has been perfect for times such as what we live in right now. It's good for kids and my children have really enjoyed it. It gives an idea on a child-like level where they understand what the Underground Railroad is all about, how it happened, and why it was important.
Was this review helpful?
William Still was born in New Jersey to parents who had escaped slavery, but had to leave family behind. When William's job led him to one of his family members as they fled slavery, he started keeping records of others who escaped slavery. 

This book would make a great read-aloud. It does not skip over the horrors of slavery or the discrimination faced by blacks once they reached the North, but it does it in a way that is age-appropriate.

Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I received this ARC from #netgalley and I’m glad I had a chance to read and review this fascinating book. I had never heard of William Still or his family before. This is an important to tell!
Was this review helpful?
We hear a fair number of stores about slavery and the Underground Railroad. What we seldom consider is how we know those stories. I'd never heard that it was a focused effort to record slaves' stories until I read this book. Due to William Still we know about slavery conditions and the efforts of escape. It makes the history unimpeacheable, having first person accounts. And it's inspiring, to learn how this young man use the opportunity he was given by being raised in freedom and properly educated to do everything in his power to help others, to reunite families and give his people help moving forward. A great addition to history collections.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars.

William Still and His Freedom Stories is a vital picture book that provides children with an introduction to the abolition movement from a Black perspective. So many abolition stories tend to focus on white people or one of a handful of Black activists. Many Black activists were involved though, and it's amazing to see one as important as William Still finally having his story told for a younger audience. 

It's fairly lengthy and wordy for a picture book, and sometimes I felt like the prose was trying to achieve poetry and sounding a touch awkward for it, but it truly is otherwise a fantastic and largely accessible picture book. I'd especially recommend reading it aloud with children in a learning environment to really explore the nuances. 

The illustrations were soft and touching, with their warmth helping to bring a tenderness to the story that prevents it from becoming overwhelming for its young audience. 

Highlighting the true story of William Still's vital abolition activism and his pivotal role in the Underground Railroad, this sensitive picture book offers information and emotion. It doesn't back down from telling the truth or explaining how truly painful the experiences of enslaved or free Black people, but it does so with such tenderness that it makes for a beautiful introduction. Recommended!
Was this review helpful?
The story of William Still and his work with the Underground Railroad is not well-known. Don Tate tells the story with amazing artwork in this book. This is a valuable addition to children's nonfiction books.
Was this review helpful?
How many stories from history haven't been told?  If for no other reason than that he recorded the stories of black people who escaped slavery, Still would be important.  Storytellers are important.  How many important people do we not know about?  I'd never heard of William Still before I read Tate's book.  Perhaps my rating has as much to do with the subject and the need for this book as quality, but I also really loved the biography in verse format.  And, as a good biography should, it has a bibliography with source notes.  The illustrations are a bit cartoonish for my tastes and yet I know that's what will draw young readers.  This is a picture book that I recommend for any age, even for adults like me who need to hear more untold stories.
Was this review helpful?
Parents, educators, librarians, please get yourself a copy of this book. William Still and His Freedom Stories is an excellent nonfiction picture book for young readers. Don Tate's words and beautiful illustrations tell William Still's story about being the Father of the Underground Railroad. I would recommend for all elementary age children as 4th and 5th graders could read this on their own, and it would be a great read aloud full of opportunities for learning more about our country's history for the younger grades. Thank you NetGalley for the digital copy!
Was this review helpful?
I’ve enjoyed what amounts to a “front row seat” for several years since the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards were brought to the Fay B. Kaigler Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Part of the pleasure has come from watching the careers of those artists as they continue and grow. Don Tate won in each category in different years and has become a prolific writer and artist. In my opinion, his newest book that came out yesterday on November 1is his best yet from both perspectives.

On the front flap and the back cover, Don says, “That’s what stories do. Protest injustice. Soothe. Teach. Inspire. Connect. Stories save lives.” Then he writes William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad and proves his point. 

In lyrical language, Don tells William Still’s life story with a well-researched background in the time that he lived and of his role in establishing the Underground Railroad. An example comes as he sets the tone for the book with the young William and his first effort to help an enslaved man escape:
“The neighbors called him William.
The boy knew every nook and cranny
of the woods.
William led the man to safety,
Some twenty miles away.
The experience defined the rest of his life.”
Beginning with a brief history of his parents and William’s birth as the last of fifteen children, the account traces a difficult path to adulthood, working the Underground Railroad that includes a nice surprise, running a successful business, and eventually penning his autobiography.  

Don’s illustrations are equally important to the story. I found myself spending time analyzing the feelings he puts into the faces of the people. And I particularly loved his use of deep blues and purples for darkness. He makes his words and pictures blend together into a story that a grandparent and grandchildren can enjoy reading and discussing more than once. (Parents make a good substitute if no grandparent can be found.)

I highly recommend this book. If you don’t have a child or grandchild near, you can always recommend it as a purchase for your local library and volunteer to read it to a young patron.
Was this review helpful?
Beautifully illustrated picture book based on William Still and his involvement with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Written in verse, this nonfiction book guides the reader on a journey describing the incredible life of William Still and his work collecting the stories of the men, women, and children he helped move to freedom along the Underground Railroad. I will certainly be using this book in the library during Black History Month.
Was this review helpful?
This was a wonderful story about a figure from American history that is rarely taught in school.  William Still is known as the father of the Underground Railroad.  He kept records, told stories, and fought to have Black citizens seen as equal members of the community.  Sometimes this story gets a bit long winded, but overall it works, and is a great addition to any history class for young kids.
Was this review helpful?
Back in elementary school, the Underground Railroad was a big topic in history class. We read books, watched documentaries and film/television adaptations all about it. When I saw another book about this historical event, I really wanted to jump back into reading it. It's an important story to tell, and an intriguing one at that. 

This is a biography of one of the men who was a big part of the Underground Railway - if not the most important! William Still's story is crazy important and is one incredible one. I think this is a great way to introduce the tale, especially in a picture format. I feel like this would have helped me with reading the Underground Railway chapter book way back in my youth.

This Black History book is super important. I highly recommend it not only because of it's important historical context but the beautiful illustrations and great story telling that brought this book to life.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Peachtree Publishing Company for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
William Still is another great example of leadership in the 19th century that readers will be excited to learn about! This book chronicles his life with gorgeously colored illustrations and great point of view in each illustration.  This fresh story and perspective on the Underground Railroad is a must read for all.  This book is perfect to expand on ideas of civic action, Black History, and general knowledge of American History.
Was this review helpful?