Particularly heart-rending is the segregated worship service, followed by a jubilant outdoor time of praise in the forest. Clinging to God’s deliverance of the Israelites in the book of Exodus, they wait in anticipation of their own delivery from slavery. They wait for their own Moses.
By the book’s end I was swept away in tears of hopeful sorrow. The joy exhibited by these people at the first glimpse of freedom at the beginning of a long road to their complete deliverance from bondage rendered me incapable of answering my children’s questions as I sobbed. It is a rare occurrence for a picture book to move me so deeply, to dig into the caches of shared human experiences and longings that we all hold in common.
The Listeners succinctly captures a vital moment, a turning point, the first glimpse of dawn after a long, dark night. Made personal and accessible through Ella May’s observations, this title is an unforgettable introduction to a painful, but likewise unforgettable period in history
A free downloadable teaching guide from Sleeping Bear Press uses The Listeners to further explore the themes of democracy, equality, and the Underground Railroad. Extension activities are provided for language arts, geography, and more.