Project Description

William Still and His Freedom Stories
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Teacher’s Guide

William Still and His Freedom Stories

The Father of the Underground Railroad

by Don Tate

From Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate comes the highly anticipated and remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad.

★ “Inspirational.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

★ “Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

William Still’s parents escaped slavery but had to leave two of their children behind, a tragedy that haunted the family. As a young man, William went to work for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, where he raised money, planned rescues, and helped freedom seekers who had traveled north. And then one day, a strangely familiar man came into William’s office, searching for information about his long-lost family. Could it be?

Motivated by his own family’s experience, William began collecting the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers. As a result, he was able to reunite other families and build a remarkable source of information, including encounters with Harriet Tubman, Henry “Box” Brown, and William and Ellen Craft.

Award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate brings to life the incredible, stranger-than-fiction true story of William Still, a man who dedicated his life to recording the stories of enslaved people fleeing to freedom. Tate’s powerful words and artwork are sure to inspire young readers in this first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.

Also available from Don Tate:
Carter Reads the Newspaper

Format: Hardcover
Price: $18.99
ISBN: 978-1-56145-935-3
Publication Date: 11/1/2020
Page Count: 40
Size: 11″ x 9-3/4″
Age Range: 6 – 10
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-68263-277-2
Age Range: 6 – 10
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

F&P: T, Gr 4, Genre B
Lexile: 610L
Themes: Black History, Freedom, Slavery, Underground Railroad
BISAC 1: JNF025270 JUVENILE NONFICTION / History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
BISAC 2: JNF007050 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional
BISAC 3: JNF018010 JUVENILE NONFICTION / People & Places / United States / African American


“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

“[A] clear, comprehensive narrative….Graceful free verse… Textural digital illustrations and expressive characters punctuate the affecting text… An illuminating picture book biography of a lesser-known hero.” —Publishers Weekly, 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

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“The digital illustrations portray [Still] effectively from infancy to old age…. In this concisely written, informative picture-book biography, Tate introduces a man who deserves to be more widely known.” —Booklist

“Tate’s short sentences and accessible language convey the urgency of Still’s work, and his illustrations sensitively communicate the danger and terror faced by enslaved people….There’s plenty of hope here, too.” —BookPage

“[A] thorough and informative picture-book biography…. Tate’s writing style is generally engaging and accessible. Rich acrylic illustrations are perfectly matched with a poetic narrative that celebrates the subject and conveys the realities of the times.” —The Horn Book Magazine

“Striking illustrations with approachable text… The legacy of an American hero is told here using accessible, factual text; lifelike illustrations rendered digitally; and informative backmatter… An alluring picture book.” —Shelf Awareness

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Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book —Chicago Public Library, 2020

Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award Silver Honor —California Reading Association, 2020

Best of Picture Books —Kirkus Reviews, 2020

Children’s Crown Award (Nominee) —National Christian School Association, 2021-2022

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Meet the Author/Illustrator

Don Tate

Don Tate is the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. In 2013, he earned an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award for his first picture book text, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw. You can visit  his website here.