Wednesday, December 1, 2010
A beautifully written tale that grabs your heart.
Twelve-year-old David lives with his parents on their farm in the south, during the time of slavery in the US. David can never please his Pa, who ridicules him when he displays weakness, and calls him sissy. Worse, Pa routinely and savagely whips the slaves, including sixteen-year-old Jenkins. Appalled at these beatings, David determines to help Jenkins escape. David is frightened of his father, and knows that if he is caught, Pa will beat him. David will need his wits and every ounce of courage to help Jenkins escape.
The story resonates on all levels. K. C. Sniders' illustrations are dramatic and emotionally charged, and enhance the story beautifully. The way Jenkins is depicted especially pulled on my heartstrings. David's empathic character is perfectly rendered.
Author Donna McDine pulls you in from the first sentence, and doesn't let you go. Her writing is filled with sensory detail that puts you into the story and the era. She has created living, breathing characters, so much so, that I strongly felt their lives before and after the tale. She doesn't hold back on showing the cruel and inhumane treatment of slaves, which highlights David's compassion and courage as the centerpiece of the story. His emotions are felt through out, putting the reader into his shoes. As a result, David personifies and models something very important: A boy differentiating himself from his parent, and standing up for what he believes is right. This is a powerful message, that you can love a parent, as David surely does, even if you do not agree with what they do.
I highly recommend the Golden Pathway to teachers, parents, and children. The story will be a valuable part of any classroom studying slavery in the US. In addition to being a good introduction to the history and life of the time, it will generate good discussion about the era, making it a valuable addition for libraries.
The Golden Pathway is a beautifully written tale of courage, conscience, and compassion. Five big stars. It's a gem.
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