Kay Winters and Larry Day combine their talents to create Voices from the Underground Railroad. These poems tell the story of two slaves trying to escape their master and find then their brother up north. Each poem is told from the point of view of the brother and sister, the conductors, the woman who owned them and even the slave hunters telling their stories. The poems cover the fears they are feeling, the dangers they are facing and the thoughts that cause them to be the people that they are. However, there is little new here. We have heard the stories before.
The pieces of information that are new, or might not be as familiar to the reader, are the fact the brother and sister are escaping from Maryland. Usually, a story of pre-civil war is set in the deep south. Or we assume only the deep south. Most people rarely think there was slavery, or think of slavery, as far north as Maryland. The other interesting point is how many people of color helped in the actual railroad itself. Some of these people were freemen and women and some slaves. Of course, we see the Quakers and other white people that we are probably more familiar with as having been part of the movement to help the runaways.
The historical background at the end, while probably mostly known, still is a nice tie-in to the story itself. The adult in me wanted to learn more about the people involved that are not the main characters: the wife of the master, the slave hunters and the master himself. This is because everyone has a story and everyone’s story has a part to play in why they are doing what they are doing. It does not make it right (the master is selling them to make money to pay off his debts) but it puts things in context. Therefore, I would love to see a full-length novel about these people. With that said, this is a good book to introduce the subject, it is told in a different format (poetry compared to traditional text) and the illustrations are fabulous. Once you have read the story, reread it to fully take in the illustrations.