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Children's Nonfiction General

Last Safe House, The

A Story of the Underground Railroad

by (author) Barbara Greenwood

illustrated by Heather Collins

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Aug 1998
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 1998
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 18
  • Grade: 3 to 12


This is the dramatic story of the Underground Railroad as seen through the eyes of two young girls -- Eliza, a runaway slave from a plantation in Virginia, and Johanna, whose family gives her refuge in St. Catharines, Canada West (now Ontario). In a unique mix of fact and fiction, each chapter is followed by background information and hands-on activities. Kids will learn about life on a cotton plantation, about abolitionists who fought to have slavery made illegal, and about the heroic actions of Canadians who sheltered runaway slaves. Beautifully detailed drawings accompany the text making The Last Safe House a comprehensive, all-in-one resource.

About the authors

Barbara Greenwood is an award-winning author whose books include Gold Rush Fever, The Last Safe House and A Pioneer Thanksgiving. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Barbara Greenwood's profile page

Heather Collins brings Come Sit By Me alive with the colourful illustration style for which she has become known. Her popular children's picture book credits include Whoosh I Hear a Sound!, The Bare Naked and A Pioneer Story: The Daily Life of a Canadian Family in 1840 for which She won both the Information Book Award and the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award. When she's not illustrating in her attic studio in Toronto, Heather can be found spending time with her two children and her husband.

Heather Collins' profile page


  • Short-listed, Alberta Children’s Choice Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award
  • Winner, Our Choice, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Winner, Teachers’ Choices, International Reading Association
  • Winner, Information Book Award, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children

Editorial Reviews

This superb text vivifies the stories behind the flight to freedom.

Smithsonian Magazine

This fictional story, based on the experiences of many real slaves and their helpers, is filled with drama and pathos and grips the reader from beginning to end. The mix of story, information, and activities for kids brings the past vividly alive. This is a terrific book, ideal for both home and classroom use.

Quill & Quire

In short chapters, the story of fictional escaped slave Eliza Jackson and her family unfold, paralleling the effect on and courage of Canadian Johanna Reid and her family, who hide Eliza and her brother Ben until they can safely reunite with their mother. Smoothly sandwiched in are maps, drawings, and factual passages that give background details of the time. The clean, approachable design presents all of these elements in a clear, organized manner and the black-and-white illustrations complement both fictional and historical elements.

Kirkus Reviews

A book that is part novel, part history lesson, and part activity guide. Surprisingly, Greenwood succeeds on all counts. Sepia drawings appear on almost every page, giving the book an open look.

School Library Journal

Other titles by Barbara Greenwood

Other titles by Heather Collins