Martha and the Slave Catchers (Hardcover)

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Thirteen-year-old Martha and seven-year-old Jake must do what adults cannot to ensure their own and others’ freedom.

Martha Bartlett has a secret. Her life has already been changed by the Underground Railroad. Now the safety of her younger brother Jake depends on her willingness to risk her own life to bring Jake home to their abolitionist community in Connecticut. It’s 1854 and though all people in the North are supposed to be free, seven-year-old Jake, the orphan of a fugitive slave, learns otherwise. Using aliases, disguises, and other subterfuges, his older sister Martha struggles to elude slave catchers while adhering to her parents’ admonition to always tell the truth. Being perceived sometimes as white, sometimes as black during a perilous journey also throws her sense of her own identity into turmoil. Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope, and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.

About the Author

Harriet Hyman Alonso is the author of five books, including the prize-winning biography Growing Up Abolitionist: The Story of the Garrison Children, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship. In 2017, the Peace History Society, an affiliate of the American Historical Association, awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a professor emerita of history at the City College of New York. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Martha and the Slave Catchers is her first novel. Visit her website at

Elizabeth Zunon lives in Albany, New York, and creates art influenced by her tropical childhood in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. She illustrates with a mix of oil paint and collage in such picture books as The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, The Legendary Miss Lena Horne, and many others.

Praise For…

"Alonso and Zunon have both done a masterful job bringing America's pre-Civil War years to the page. Readers will sit in suspense as Martha risks her life in the Underground Railroad network ... Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's 'Seeds of America' series will want to pick this up." School Library Journal

"Alonso pens an informative, easy-to-follow adventure story that nevertheless tackles the persistent issues arising from antebellum America, including race and skin color, situational ethics and their devastating consequences, and allyship and using privilege for justice. A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what's most important: love." Kirkus Reviews

"Alonso is a historian and storyteller: the perfect background for a novel that will give middle school readers an excellent sense of life in the mid-1850s. It never veers into textbook mode, but rather uses character and action to draw the reader into issues such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1860 ... a compelling and carefully wrought book, enjoyable literally cover to cover." The Freedom Seeker, a newsletter of the Undergound Railroad.

"The complexities of mid-1800s slave laws and racial attitudes are captured within the pages of a riveting adventure story. The fast-paced plot, filled with twists and surprises, will engage readers and spark discussion of these important issues. Alonso breathes life into the sights, sounds, and emotions of travel on the Underground Railroad." —Elisa Carbone, author of Stealing Freedom

"Middle graders will love the spunk of Martha, the heroine of this novel. Passionate about the injustices of slavery, she embarks on a journey south to save her kidnapped brother Jake. Rooted in abolitionist history, full of page-turning suspense, mystery, and inner conflict, Martha and the Slave Catchers depicts the disastrous aftermath of the passing of 1850’s Fugitive Slave Act." —Virginia Frances Schwartz, author of If I Just Had Two Wings, Send One Angel Down and Crossing to Freedom

"Harriet Hyman Alonso’s gripping tale is steeped in period detail, and presents an honest and accurate portrait of life in mid-nineteenth-century Connecticut and of the havoc created by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Readers will come away with a clearer understanding of the horrors of slavery, and a greater appreciation for the bravery of those who fought against it. Anyone who loves an exciting read and likes learning a bit of history on the way will love this book." —Margaret Meacham, author of Oyster Moon and The Ghosts of Laurelford

"Martha’s is a true hero’s journey. This is a story about love, bravery, the constancy of family, loss, history, and hope, set during a time we all need to know more about." —Jerdine Nolen, author of Eliza’s Freedom Road and Raising Dragons

Product Details
ISBN: 9781609808006
ISBN-10: 1609808002
Publisher: Triangle Square
Publication Date: November 21st, 2017
Pages: 256
Language: English