Historical fiction, wordless picture book! A rare combo. This one should have won Caldecott 2013.
The graphic designer, Marijka Kostiw, is a genius. That blue page border! And the chosen color of paper reflects a luminescent pink aura all the way down the gutter when read with overhead light! (Don't open the book too flat--let the pages bow and curve up a bit.) This magical shadow effect is so consistent with the overall design that it doesn't distract from the visual feel of the drawings and the print--the kind of material effect book-lovers notice, and a serious challenge to the e-book medium.
Cole controls texture with directional contours for the expansive swaths of sky, earth, and wood. Because it's all charcoal, you know how painstakingly purposeful it is--he has to draw from top to bottom to avoid smudging.
And no lesson being peddled, here! A plain story--filled with fright, threat, kindness, wonder. Cole lets us have an experience without trying to coat bitter medicine in sweet narrative.
ALSO: Did I miss something? Can someone show me why the publisher's blurb and some of the reviewers thought the runaway slave was male?