Many Stone Soup readers tell us that historical fiction is their favorite genre. We think we know why. Realistic characters, whose feelings and concerns are similar to our own, can bring the events of history to life better than a dry textbook. A perfect example of historical fiction is “Curtis Freedom,” the featured story from our September/October 2013 issue.
The setting is a cotton plantation in the South. The time is the mid-1800s. Curtis is a fictional slave boy who lives during this real time in American history. In the story, Curtis meets the famous abolitionist, Harriet Tubman, a real person. Like many real slaves of the time, Curtis escapes from the plantation with the help of Harriet Tubman and her Underground Railroad. He stays in safe houses along the way and eventually makes his way to Canada and freedom, just like many real slaves did at the time.
Thirteen-year-old author Anna Haverly shows us this time in history through Curtis’s eyes, and we experience it with him. It’s unbearable to work in the hot sun and be yelled at by a master who calls you “boy” because he doesn’t even care to learn your name. It’s tragic to be separated from your parents when you’re sold into slavery. It’s terrifying to run away from a cruel master and fear being caught and sent back. And finally, what joy to find your father again in a new land!
Did we just learn a lot about history? What a great way to learn, through a relatable character and a story that sweeps us away to another time and place.