Who was William Still? One of the most important people who helped run The Underground Railroad and I would wager few know his name. As the book William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad will point out, several people of color were involved in the everyday workings of the Railroad, few are still known. And Don Tate authors and illustrates one man’s journey.
The youngest of his siblings, some left behind in slavery when their parents escaped, Still always wanted to learn. He worked his way to an important position in the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and inspired by his own family’s situation, he would document the people that passed through. This was dangerous as it was proof these people were breaking the law by helping escaped slaves and his histories documented details that would not only help people find their own families hopefully later but would prove a particular slave had been there. From his early years to his death, Tate shows how one man stood side-by-side with men and women like Henry “Box” Brown and Harriet Tubman and made history.
Rich text matches equally rich illustrations. The details fit the tone and classic style of writing. This biography reads as a narrator telling the story of Still and the Underground Railroad yet flows as a fiction format in the pacing. It is heavy on text making this longer picture book not necessarily one that will grab the traditional picture book audience due to the lack of traditional action and adventure. And though it is in a nontraditional sized picture book format, the older child (ages 7 to 10) is probably the audience. I would then say it is best for the classroom and not so much the induvial child unless you have a reader interesting in American history, black history, or the Civil War.