you can’t come,
Abram knows only slavery, but from the moment he holds his baby cousin in his arms, he is determined to protect her from the harsh realities of life on the plantation. As she grows, however, Eliza cannot escape notice. Her fair skin and blue eyes invite the hatred of the master's daughters, and the young slave's fate seems all but assured. Abram knows that freedom appears impossible, but somewhere - through the scorching heat and the overseer's whip - lies hope.
A young slave tries to hide the horrors of slavery from his younger cousin, a light-skinned slave who is the daughter of the plantation owner.
Historical Fiction. Ages 12 and up
haunting novel is based on the true story of a beautiful and spirited
slave girl, and the boy who grows up trying to protect her. It gives particular
attention to an aspect not much written about for young readers--the shame
and anguish surrounding the practice of breeding slaves for profit. From
the beginning, Abram, though only "a bone of a boy," steps powerfully
off the page as genuine flesh and blood and heart. Utilizing extensive
research of authentic slave voice, the author has attempted to show how
it might have felt to be a slave. The resulting language is rich and evocative
of time and place, of joy and suffering, and of real people. It would
be an especially involving book to read aloud to students--the drama of
its compelling story blends with the rhythm of its soulful music. The
result is a hopeful, moving, and not-to-be-forgotten narrative. “
powerfull and painful novel.
Choice Gold Award for Fiction
If I Just Had 2 Wings - Red Cedar Speech
“That’s how it comes to you at first … in dreams.”
In her dreams, Phoebe twirls through rows of sea island cotton as a white dress blows around her knees like a breeze. As she dances, she loses all memory of being born a slave on an Alabama plantation. She lifts up her feet and flies high above the fields, as light as air. Before her a single white star shines.
Thirteen-year-old Phoebe has always dreamed of leaving her life as a slave behind. She has heard whispers about a secret path to freedom, and she has seen what can happen to those who take it and fail. But freedom means more to Phoebe than anything, and when she meets Liney, a strong young woman who picks cotton next to her, they form a plan to escape together.
One night, Phoebe, Liney, and Liney's two small children flee under cover of darkness. Following clues from the songs and stories they have heard, the runaways elude slave catchers and reach the first stop on the Underground Railroad. It is only one safe house in a chain that leads all the way north to Canada. But between them and freedom, lie miles and miles of unfriendly country and dangers too horrible to imagine.
In 1861, thirteen-year-old Phoebe runs away from her master's Alabama plantation and joins four other slaves as they journey to Canada on the Underground Railroad.
Historical Fiction. Grades 4-9
REVIEWS (IF I JUST HAD TWO WINGS)
staccato sentences capture the frenzy and the fatigue, while longer ones
flow like poetry. Readers will learn about the risky operation of safe
houses and other secrets of the Underground Railroad. They'll experience
the value of friendship, the dangers of escape and the reasons for running.
By the end of this stirring tale, they will also savor Old Willie's definition
of freedom—"laying your head down at night, knowing the next
day is yours."
a novel filled with adventure and romance. Though many books have been
written about escapes from slavery along the Underground Railroad, few
read as grippingly or beautifully as this one … The best all-around
new novel I’ve read this year.”
and suspenseful, it is also well researched and historically accurate.
This novel would appeal to any teen with an interest in social history
and human rights.”
powerful read, and difficult to put down. Confident middle-school readers
will love the thrilling way history is brought to life. And teachers,
looking to augment their lesson plans, should give this a look, too!”
a nice job of integrating historic fact into her deeply felt story, as
well as a sensitive appreciation of the role of music in slave culture
… This story, like Schwartz’s first novel, Send One Angel
Down, is a passionate, often stirring account of the human spirit’s
capacity to endure and triumph.”
of details of the Underground Railroad, with actual names of conductors
and stations and fascinating background on the many secret signals and
songs, this is a well-written and exciting story that will appeal to fans
of historical fiction and find a place in middle-school American history
classrooms. Schwartz, an elementary school teacher, grew up in southern
Ontario, where many of the slaves who escaped on the Underground Railroad
settled. An author's note at the end talks about her research and her
inspiration for the novel.
readers who often take their freedom for granted get a glimpse of a difficult
historical era in this well-researched and carefully documented novel.”
solid reading experience.”
Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
that time, no one has words. Those days were like whispers.
Born only a week after the tragic death of her father, Frances Chopp grows up believing that she was sent to earth as her father’s messenger to pull her mother out of her grief. And in the years that follow, Frances tries to make sense of the hard times that have struck her immigrant family, even as she struggles to understand the puzzle of her family’s past. Set in the mining and steel towns of Southern Ontario in the years between the wars, Messenger is a moving story of familial love and the determination to survive.
Based on the lives of the author's mother and grandmother, tells the story of a widowed Croatian immigrant trying to keep her family together in the mining towns of Ontario in the 1920s and 1930s.
Historical Fiction Ages 12 and up
strongly atmospheric, with its evocations of communication between the
living and the dead, the mother's battle between despair and survival,
and distinctive Croatian customs and superstitions.”
… Within this spare plot are woven numerous threads that encompass
much that people experience in life. The young family works hard to survive
on the outskirts of a coal mining town in northern Ontario, Canada. But
the father is killed in a mining accident and two weeks later the young
mother delivers her third child at the beginning of a bleak winter. The
elegant and evocative writing draw us into the story as the new arrival,
a baby girl, becomes a synonym for the legacy of hope and perseverance
bestowed by the father. She is his "messenger." The narrative
successfully evokes the harsh reality of frontier life, underscoring how
fragile life can be. The counterbalance of a resilient family facing challenges
and overcoming them again and again with a combination of help from other
family members and hard work is inspirational. This book would serve any
classroom well as a finely crafted story as well as a study on immigrants
and frontier life in Canada.”
novel takes place predominantly in Canada's coal-mining territory and
ends at the beginning of World War II. Frances begins her story in 1923,
when her father died in a mining accident and she was born, and narrates
it in chapters divided by milestones in her Croatian family's life. Descriptions
are rich. Accurate historical references describing transportation, housekeeping,
current events, and daily living set the story firmly in the first half
of the 20th century. Schwartz's novel emphasizes the joys of a closely
knit family, no matter what their economic status.”
…lyrically written tale of a growing clan of Croatian immigrants
struggling to get by in Depression-era Canada. Rich in emotional nuance,
Frances's account is weighted with a sense of loss, yes, but also laced
with dreams, visions (even, once, an angel's visitation), epiphanies and,
after 16 years of sorrow, the prospect of a new and brighter future. Readers
will be rewarded with an affecting tale of hardships overcome.”
and poignant …”
coming-of-age story. The lyrical writing infuses the bleak landscape and
conditions with a magical element. Poetic images abound… Highly
for the Teen Age, NYC Public Library
“I am prey, caught in a spider's web. Every time the spider creeps, he makes me whirl around and around. My life is spinning without me. I cling to the web with my hands and feet. I look for a place to leap.”
Nana's future is certain, and she dreads it. Daughter of a proud Kwakiutl chief, she will become a weaver, marry the son of a chief from another tribe, and leave her beloved home forever. Nanolatch, Nana's twin brother, will be chief one day, and he welcomes it. He will be a warrior and a strong leader, just like his father. Together, the twins will enter their initiation to adulthood, and fulfill the roles that have been determined for them since the day they were born.
But when the chief leads a warring party to destroy another tribe's village and capture a slave, the fortunes of the Kwakiutl tribe begin to turn. Convinced that they must make amends, the chief casts about for a way to undo the curse that has descended on their people.
The young slave, Noh, has been mute since the day she was torn from her village. Daughter of a shaman, she has already seen visions of the twins. Only gradually does she understand that her own emergence as a shaman is inextricably linked with the twins and their approaching initiation. Through her sympathy for Nana and her growing love for Nanolatch, she understands that she must help them fulfill their true destiny. But can she save them, knowing that it will take a terrible sacrifice to restore them all to their rightful place?
Set on the West Coast of North America during the fifteenth century, Initiation is a powerful story of a proud tribe, the Spirit World that guides them, and the universal struggle of three extraordinary young people on the brink of adulthood.
Historical Fiction. Ages 12 and up.
in the myths and legends of the Northwest Indians, Schwartz's story contains
lots of details of daily life infused with reverence for the natural world.
There is so little available for readers interested in seeing the world
from the perspective of Native peoples before Columbus that where curriculum
dictates, it may prove useful.”
compelling, a haunting coming-of-age story that blends history and myth
in ways that will engage a range of readers.”
is an absorbing portrait of a period in North American history about which
little is known … draws attention to the chasm that can open up
between private desires and impersonal necessity.”
lyrical, concrete and sensual in a way that evokes the salty, watery life
of B.C.’s coast and conveys ividly the longings of her characters
…. Plays beautifully with the metaphor of female transformation,
of a freedom that comes from joining the animal world … there’s
something potent and haunting about this imagining.”
language and a strong sense of place
novel, aimed at a young-adult audience,
Book, Kuriyama International Prize
KIDS in 5E & 1 CRAZY YEAR Back
“Writers aim their words deep into the reader’s heart like arrows.”
and life in general are seen through the writings of four fifth graders
who have been taken out of an overcrowded New York City classroom and
placed with a teacher who shows them how to write and how to believe in
well written novel about the writing process. It follows in the tradition
of other books which discuss a writer's struggles to put words to paper.
Schwartz has left us with a powerful message about the power of education
to transform individuals. This book should be required reading for all
teachers of young children! However, at the same time, it is also a marvelous
read for students! Highly Recommended.”
book, although fiction, is written to reflect the experiences of the author
as a teacher in a crowded New York City school. The theme is a beautiful
one as the story unfolds and the young students blossom and bloom, opening
up like flowers in the spring when a new teacher encourages them, not
just to read, but also to write. They are given positive reinforcement
and begin to feel free to write about what they see, what they feel, and
what they remember.”
a promising motivational book for reluctant readers and writers.”
Solomon continues with their group leader, but his feelings of loss and isolation haunt him, as he attempts to forge a new home in Canada.
It soon becomes apparent that racial prejudices know no borders, and while Solomon works hard and begins to experience some newfound freedoms, he faces discrimination and segregation and lives with the ongoing fear of being caught by slavecatchers and dragged back to the South.
With all of these barriers facing him, Solomon must find the strength — the same strength that brought him north, the same strength that gives him hope of finding his father — to persevere and understand the true meaning of freedom.
Nutz Back To Top
by Virginia Frances Schwartz
Illustrated by Christina Leist
978-1-896580-87-6 · pb