Project Description

Blacksmiths Song
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Blacksmith’s Song

by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk
illustrated by Anna Rich

The son of an enslaved blacksmith learns that his father is using the rhythm of his hammering to communicate with travelers on the Underground Railroad. When Pa falls ill, it is up to him to help others along the journey—and also lead his family’s escape.

Pa works hard as a blacksmith.  But he’s got another important job to do as well: using his anvil to pound out the traveling rhythm – a message to travelers on the Underground Railroad.  His son wants to help, but Pa keeps putting him off.  Then one day, Pa falls ill and the boy has to take over.

A powerful story of rhythm and craft in nineteenth century America with beautiful oil paintings and backmatter that includes more information about the Underground Railroad.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-580-5
Publication Date: 2/1/2018
Page Count: 32
Size: 10-3/8″ x 9-3/8″
Age Range: 6 – 10
Language: English
F&P: R, Gr 4, Genre HF
Lexile: 620L
Themes: Communication, Escape, Slavery, Underground Railroad
BISAC 1: JUV016200 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
BISAC 2: JUV011010 JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United States / African American
BISAC 3: JUV031040 JUVENILE FICTION / Performing Arts / Music


“An intriguing new angle on an important story.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A plausible, powerful vision of ingenuity and daring in action.” —Publishers Weekly

“A shadowy color palette situates the narrative in the twilight and moonlit hours, perfectly complementing the suspense of the plot…. Ending on a hopeful note, the book brings this piece of hidden history to life.” —Booklist

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“Inspired by tales of the Underground Railroad and its innovative methods of communication, a perilous story of courage and cunning unfolds” —Foreword Reviews

“The design of every spread lends itself well to an oral reading or presentation, which would serve as a stimulus for more in-depth information or discussion on the topics of slavery and the Civil War….a welcome addition to an introduction of the Underground Railroad.” —School Library Connection

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Meet the Author

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk is the award-winning author of more than 70 published books for young people. After graduating from Knox College, she went on to spend ten years writing for radio and television with a concentration on children’s programming. She lives in California.

Meet the Illustrator

Anna Rich says her art career began in kindergarten.  She much preferred coloring and drawing to her other class work.  She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and is an active member of the New York Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild. She lives in New York.