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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just Pencil and Paper

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole is a wordless picture book.  Using Canon charcoal paper with Staedtler Mars 4B pencils, Cole's detailed drawings build the story of an ordinary farming family and what may have happened during the Civil War.
I am struck by the impact this book had on me that really portrays that emotional time for our country.  
With a wordless book, the author/illustrator uses the mind of the reader to fill in the space where words might have been.
All you ever see of the runaway slave is his or her eye.  The raw fright of the girl that helps the slave comes through loud and clear.  And you can feel the sheer magnitude of her bravery. 
Now a colleague mentioned that the sign of the quilt is a misinterpretation, and that bothered her.  I like to think of it as just there.  I see this family as a quiet, regular family with one member having this extraordinary experience, not as abolitionists and they were an ongoing stop on the Underground Railroad.
I see this story as one person making one choice that helped to save one life, and that I can only hope that I would be one-tenth as brave as that girl.
For some fun, play a game on Henry Cole's Website, or browse his other works.  Cole began to be published in 1995 and has almost 80 books illustrated or authored and illustrated. 

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