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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Francesco d'Adamo
Age Range: 9-11
Set in 1850 in the State of Alabama, USA, ten-year-old Tommy and his family are slaves on a cotton plantation belonging to Captain Archer. Life is extremely harsh and the slaves know nothing of freedom until one day a stranger with a wooden leg known as Peg Leg Joe, with a banjo slung over his shoulder, arrives and offers them a glimmer of hope – a chance to escape to freedom, a chance that no one had dared dream of. Peg Leg Joe knows the way through the Underground Railroad – a secret route out of the South and on towards Canada and safety. However, for Tommy's family, taking such a momentous decision is fraught with so many dangers. There is Jim Kniff the overseer and the intimidating guards with their fierce dogs who are tasked with protecting Captain Archer's land and the slaves who belong to him. Then there is the journey itself which is both perilous and arduous covering thousands of miles as it crosses over vast counties towards Canada.
Award-winning Italian author Francisco D'Adamo's novel is based on fact – of how 1,00,000 slaves managed to escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad network. It is nearly nine years since we last saw a novel by D'Adamo in English; My Brother Johnny was published in 2007 and his acclaimed novel Iqbal in 2003, (see reviews on the the OIW website), so it's a welcome return to have another of his books available for a whole new audience to enjoy. Eloquently translated by Siän Williams, Oh, Freedom! highlights a true story of determination, courage and the right to be free.