Never before has my son described a book he’s read by saying, “My friends are in there,” but those were his exact words after reading the Freedom Seekers Series by Lois Walfrid Johnson.
Set in 1857, this six book collection takes young readers on a historical adventure during the time of the Underground Railroad. The six titles, Escape Into the Night, Race for Freedom, Midnight Rescue, The Swindler’s Treasure, Mysterious Signal, and The Fiddler’s Secret, are geared towards children ages 10 and up, but these stories can be enjoyed by adults as well. Filled with danger and suspense, this historical fictional series brings to life many real people, places, and events. Homeschoolers will appreciate the added study guide included in each book with vocabulary, comprehension questions, field trip ideas, and ways to dig deeper into the time period.
Readers join thirteen year-old tomboy, Libby Norstad, as she moves from living a pampered life in Chicago with her aunt and uncle to living a new adventure with her father, Captain Norstand, on his Mississippi River steamboat, the Christina. Caleb, the cabin boy, has secrets and curious Libby is determined to find out what he’s hiding. Libby discovers that Caleb and her father work together in the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves like Jordan. Naive at first, Libby goes through a change in character as she realizes the physical and emotional devastation that results from slavery.
The series continues following Libby and Caleb as they help Jordan find and rescue his family, even as his cruel master, Riggs, is on their heels. In their effort to help other fugitive slaves, Libby is fearfully aware that just one word or action could thwart the cause and put lives at risk. Adventure awaits as Libby and Caleb try to rescue slaves before the slave catchers arrive. It’s a mission of life or death.
Throughout the series the author touches on the people and events that led up to the American Civil War. Readers learn about significant figures in history such as Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed for printing anti-slavery materials, and Deacon and Mrs. Theron Trowbridge, who used their home to hide escaped slaves.
Strong Christian themes are found throughout the Freedom Seekers Series. Jordan, the escaped slave, has a strong faith in God and believes in the power of forgiveness. Instead of hating his cruel master, which he says would rob him of strength and make him blind, he chooses to forgive because he believes it’s the only thing he can do. Libby’s father explains that he chose to protect runaway slaves because God tells his people to “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Other character building traits are brought out as well, such as honesty and the importance of standing up for what’s right, no matter the cost.
After finishing the entire series in just a few short weeks, my son assured me that Lois Walfrid Johnson was his favorite author. With attention to detail and a knack for developing characters, Johnson weaves an exciting storyline into real history in a way that truly captivates readers. Homeschoolers will appreciate the strong values portrayed throughout the series as well as the educational value in Johnson’s historical accounts. Children won’t know they’re learning history as they enjoy a wholesome fast-paced read.
My son and I highly recommend the Freedom Seekers Series to homeschool families. Enjoyable for both boys and girls, these books are a wonderful addition to our library. They’ve helped my son learn about an influential time in American history in a most entertaining way. A book series that manages to transport my son to another place and time with such intensity that he misses his friends after turning the last page is a treasure indeed.
-Product Review by Leah, The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, July, 2016