“The Underground Railroad Twins” by Lisa Tasca Oatway

“The Underground Railroad Twins” by Lisa Tasca Oatway 663 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Underground Railroad Twins

Lisa Tasca Oatway
Tellwell Talent (2023)
ISBN: 978-0228896203
Reviewed by Michaela Gordoni for Reader Views (08/2023)

In “The Underground Railroad Twins: A Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure” the Stonehart family prepares for a field trip to a black settlement site. But the youngest member, little Tori, keeps having troubling dreams and anxiety about the visit. She has only just learned about slavery and the terrible past of America, and it is a lot for her to take in. The family realizes the significance of Tori’s dream and apprehensions when they finally visit the settlement, and then Tori and her siblings suddenly take a trip back in time. The siblings meet two runaway slave children (a set of twins) and realize why they were pulled to the past—to help the twins make it to freedom.

I believe that author Lisa Tasca Oatway’s purpose was to both entertain and inform, and she has done exactly that. Her story provides children with a glimpse of what it was like for slaves in an unusual and entertaining way. She doesn’t go into too much detail but still approaches uncomfortable practices such as the dehumanizing branding of people. Oatway makes a commendable effort to clarify complex definitions for young readers throughout the book. While she captures many challenging words, a few like “illicit” and “diction” offer opportunities for further exploration.

Oatway did something really unique that I completely admire in merging historical fiction and fantasy. Oatway adds a bit of magic with Tori’s special abilities. Tori was struck by lightning, and this gives her the ability to jump back in time. Her parents always know when she travels back in time because a crescent moon-shaped mark on her face lights up.

Oatway has also achieved something distinctive by having her protagonists travel back in time to help slaves. When an author usually approaches a fiction story about slavery, they write it in that time period, and the protagonist is either a slave or someone who helps slaves. But to involve children and have them go back in time is a fresh approach. I have only seen a similar narrative in children’s animated stories, so to see it in written form was refreshing.

“The Underground Railroad Twins: A Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure” by Lisa Tasca Oatway is an informative and eye-opening book for children that provides education as well as entertainment. But the most important thing that it accomplishes is the cultivation of compassion and remorse for slaves.

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