Go South to Freedom

Frye Gaillard

Illustrated by Anne Kent Rush

Title Details

Pages: 72

Illustrations: pen and ink drawings

Trim size data not found for this book.



Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8316-7

List Price: $17.95


Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-6030-6393-7

List Price: $17.95


NewSouth Books

Go South to Freedom

Frye Gaillard

Illustrated by Anne Kent Rush

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

Finalist for the 2016 Foreword Indies Best Book Award — Juvenile Fiction

Winner of the Jefferson Cup Honor Book Award

Finalist for the Housatonic Book Award

More than twenty years ago, Robert Croshon, an elderly friend of Frye Gaillard's, told him the story of Croshon's ancestor, Gilbert Fields, an African-born slave in Georgia who led his family on a daring flight to freedom. Fields and his family ran away intending to travel north, but clouds obscured the stars and when morning came Fields discovered they had been running south instead. They had no choice but to seek sanctuary with the Seminole Indians of Florida and later a community of free blacks in Mobile.

With Croshon's blessing, Gaillard has expanded this oral history into a novel for young readers, weaving the story of Gilbert Fields through the nearly forgotten history of the Seminoles and their alliance with runaway slaves. As Gaillard's narrative makes clear, the Seminole Wars of the 1830s, in which Indians fought side by side with former slaves, represents the largest slave uprising in American history. Gaillard also puts a human face on the story of free blacks before the Civil War and the lives they painfully built for themselves in Mobile. Hauntingly illustrated by artist Anne Kent Rush, Go South to Freedom is a gripping story for readers of any age.

Go South to Freedom reads so well it is hard to put down. Frye Gaillard tells a story right out of our past. While no one in the book is ever called a griot, we understand that family members, both male and female, have served in that role and kept this story alive, with little changing from the 1830s until Gaillard hears it late in the 20th century. That is what oral historians, or griots, have done for centuries in West Africa. Go South to Freedom is an excellent introduction to a piece of powerful history.

—Michael Thomason, Lagniappe

Go South to Freedom is a campfire story for all ages, filled with surprise and adventure, truth and sadness, and ultimately hope. Readers experience the great pull of freedom and find strength and honor in this account of the courageous efforts of The African and other enslaved people to make their lives better. Inspiring and entertaining.

—Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee's Bend

Based on a real event, Frye Gaillard’s illustrated novella has it all: danger, toil, tragedy, suspense, courage, and a huge heart. The storytelling is both brisk and elegant.

—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With his family at his side, a Georgia slave known only as The African abandons a life of servitude and against all odds—with the assistance of other fugitive slaves, Seminole Indians, and free black people—wins his freedom by fleeing South toward freedom. Based on a true story, Go South to Freedom is a compact and elegantly written book that explores the often overlooked yet vital story of the Underground Railroad in the Deep South. I love this book!

—Matt Clavin, author of Aiming for Pensacola: Fugitive Slaves on the Atlantic and Southern Frontiers

Go South to Freedom should be read by a campfire or under the stars. Like the great storytellers of old, Gaillard tells this heartfelt Southern epic in a way that puts you smack in the middle of a slave and his family’s escape. A must-read for schools.

—Greg Neri, Coretta Scott Honor-winning author of Yummy and Tru & Nelle

A beautiful story that brings to light a little known part of our American history. Under the leadership of a heroic figure called The African, a family of runaway slaves joins forces with the Seminole Indians to fight for freedom. Exciting and satisfying.

—Faye Gibbons, author of Halley

Frye Gaillard’s Go South to Freedom is a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated twice-told tale for readers of all ages who care to know about two of the lesser-known stories of slavery in America: the Black Seminoles of Florida and the free blacks of Mobile. So listen as Gaillard’s narrator tells once again the story of his ancestors who followed a man known as The African to their freedom in the most unlikely of places. Ultimately, this is a journey into the soul of a people, and Gaillard knows how to lead you there.

—Marlin Barton, Capote Prize winner, author of Pasture Art

Gaillard’s Go South to Freedom is told in the captivating voice of a storyteller. You feel as though you’re sitting at the feet of an ancient griot recounting the history of a people. So much historical background is weaved into this wonderful story of The African who gained freedom for himself and his family by running south instead of north, and finding refuge in a community of free blacks. Middle-schoolers will be fascinated by the little known history of the alliance of Seminole Indians and the former slaves who lived among them, joining forces in the fight for freedom.

—Joyce Hansen, author of Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad

From the memory of an old man's tale, Frye Gaillard has crafted an absorbing story of determined maroons, spooky swamps, ferocious wild animals, and resourceful Seminole Indians. A wonderful adventure sure to please and excite.

—John Sledge, author Southern Bound and The Mobile River

Alligator-filled swamps, a drowning, beatings, and terror ... a realistic picture of what runaway American slaves faced. In this fact-based historical novella, the narrator, the great-grandson of the woman who first shared this oral history, describes how four slaves escape from a Georgia plantation. An informative and well-told story about a little-known aspect of American slavery that needs to be remembered and retold.

—Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

An extraordinary read. Highly recommended.

—The Midwest Book Review

Go South to Freedom, a slim volume designed for a juvenile audience but worthy of a wider purview, documents the Gilbert Fields family's journey in search of freedom. A riveting account.

—The Florida Times-Union

In Go South To Freedom, Frye Gaillard beautifully tells a story that young people need to read. This story reminds us just how courageously and fearlessly African Americans fought to find freedom.

—Laban Carrick Hill, award-winning children's author


Housatonic Book Award, Western Connecticut State University


INDIES Best Book - Juvenile Fiction, ForeWord Reviews


Jefferson Cup Honor Book, Virginia Library Association

About the Author/Editor

FRYE GAILLARD is the writer-in-residence in the English and history departments at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of thirty books, including With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions; Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award; The Dream Long Deferred: The Landmark Struggle for Desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, winner of the Gustavus Myers Award; and If I Were a Carpenter, the first independent, book-length study of Habitat for Humanity. He lives in Mobile, Alabama.