William Still and His Freedom Stories

William Still and His Freedom Stories
The Father of the Underground Railroad

by Don Tate

William Still collected stories that reunited families separated by slavery and memorialized their courageous efforts to resist bondage. Now, it’s time to tell his story.

William Still may have been born free, but slavery and prejudice affected every aspect of his life. He had a yearning for knowledge and passion for helping people, but the color of his skin made it difficult to receive an education. Worst of all, his fugitive parents had to leave two sons behind when they escaped from a Maryland farm years before William was born, leaving a hole in his parents’ hearts.

Determined to rise above his circumstances, William moved to Philadelphia and landed a job at the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society where he became the Father of the Underground Railroad and helped freedom-seeking slaves pass through to the North. One day, a man came looking for information about his family who had escaped long ago. William felt like he had heard his story before, and this man did bear a striking resemblance to William’s mother…could it be?

Inspired by the reunion of his brother and family, William dedicated his life to collecting the stories and descriptions of fugitive slaves to help them locate their families—certainly at the risk of his own life. Read the exhilarating stories of Ellen and William Craft, who disguised themselves as a white slave master and servant, and Henry “Box” Brown, who shipped himself to Philadelphia by rail. Their stories paved the path to freedom, and their legacies have been preserved by William Still and now author Don Tate.

Don Tate, the award-winning author-illustrator of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton and illustrator of Carter Reads the Newspaper, brings you another moving nonfiction picture book highlighting a lesser-known historical hero. Tate’s poetic text offers a moving and age-appropriate account of the shocking realities of slavery and the abolitionist movement. His illustrations capture the hope, fear, and determination of these brave men and women. Perfect for educators and parents introducing topics of slavery and their oppression, William Still and His Freedom Stories is sure to inspire a rising generation of advocates and allies.

“Because that’s what stories can do.
Protest injustice.
Soothe. Teach. Inspire. Connect.
Stories save lives.”

Sneak a peek in this excerpt of the first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.

Educators—don’t miss this teacher’s guide with discussion ideas and class activities, and continue to inspire students with this downloadable “Stories save lives” poster!

“Tate’s sentences are often short, underscoring Still’s effort and drive; when they occasionally lengthen, they land with a punch… His paintings often likewise play out in vignettes that capture action over time then linger lovingly on the expressive faces of his characters. Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Gentle and straightforward prose… The text recounts the oppression and dehumanization of slavery but is not too graphic for the target age demographic…. Tate’s expressive, colorful illustrations work well with the text to convey this important part of American history…. This inspirational true story combines fact with a very readable narrative, spotlighting a pivotal figure in the abolitionist movement. A book that deserves a place on school and public library shelves.”—School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Celebrate the men and women who fought for freedom and equality with William Still and His Freedom Stories this November at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. And don’t forget to check out the rest of our brand-new Fall 2020 titles as well as our picture books and middle grade titles coming to Peachtree this season in paperback!