Local author Ray Anthony Shepard - "Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge"
Local author Ray Anthony Shepard has published an important new picture book, which has garnered starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
Runaway is a powerful, lyrical OwnVoices picture book about the enslavement of Ona Judge and her self-emancipation from George Washington’s household.
Ray Anthony Shepard is a former teacher and retired editor-in-chief of a major education publishing company. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Education and the Harvard Graduate School Education where he received a Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Ray appeared at the Bookshop with a previous book for Young Readers, Now or Never!: Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Infantry's War to End Slavery. Ray lives locally, in Lincoln.
Ona Judge was enslaved by the Washingtons, and served the President's wife, Martha. Ona was widely known for her excellent skills as a seamstress, and was raised alongside Washington’s grandchildren. Indeed, she was frequently mistaken for his granddaughter. This biography follows her childhood and adolescence until she decides to run away.
This book doesn’t shy away from the horrors of slavery, nor the complex role of house servants. Author Ray Anthony Shepard implicates the reader in Ona’s decision to emancipate herself by using a rhetorical refrain, “Why you run, Ona Judge?” This haunting meditation welcomes meaningful and necessary conversation among readers. Illustrator Keith Mallett’s rich paintings include fabric collage and add further feeling and majesty to Ona’s daring escape.
"With a distinctive, haunting voice, powerful images, and thought-provoking story structure, this unique look at a remarkable young woman’s life choices and decisions offers an utterly necessary but seldom highlighted perspective on the contradictions within our society’s foundations.A powerful antidote to whitewashed cultural mythology." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A stunning picture book debut . . . an evocative portrait that keenly interrogates the structures upon which America is built." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A fine addition to all collections." —Booklist
Here is the riveting dual biography of two little-known but extraordinary African-American Union soldiers in Civil War history—George E. Stephens and James Henry Gooding.
Stephens and Gooding not only served in the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, the well-known black regiment, but were also war correspondents who published eyewitness reports of the battlefields. Their dispatches told the truth of their lives at camp, their intense training, and the dangers and tragedies on the battlefield. Like the other thousands of black soldiers in the regiment, they not only fought against the Confederacy and the inhumanity of slavery, but also against injustice in their own army. The regiment’s protest against unfair pay resulted in America’s first major civil rights victory—equal pay for African American soldiers. This fresh perspective on the Civil War includes an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, index and source notes.
★ "Two black Civil War soldiers and writers offer unique perspectives about how they fought on and off the battlefield... both showing a different side of the war to blacks and abolitionists. Author Shepard does a great job using the dispatches from these men to form the basis for this narrative. The most impressive contribution is how the individual voices of (the soldiers) are in the forefront with their similarities and distinctions. This is a powerful use of primary resources, one that illuminates the lives of its subjects but never gets in the way of their remarkable stories. Rich backmatter provides useful information. Absolutely stellar." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "Written from the points of view of...the first African American war correspondents—fascinating, often brutal details from their experiences as soldiers in the 54th Infantry make up the backbone of this meticulously researched and highly readable history. This book will greatly enhance Civil War studies, leading to a deeper understanding of the African American plight throughout history and the racial prejudice that continues to this day. Teachers can also use this text to show how primary documents are critical to unbiased historical accounts. Documents and photographs add much interest and authenticity to the text." —School Library Connection, starred review