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Children's Nonfiction Pre-confederation (to 1867)

The Birdman

A Journey with the Underground Railroad's Most Daring Abolitionist

by (author) Troon Harrison

illustrated by François Thisdale

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2018
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Historical
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2018
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2018
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


He walked the plantation fields, freely and with the owners' permission. He was an ornithologist after all, touring the Deep South of the 1850s to study the birds. But Alexander Milton Ross was no ordinary birdman. He was an undercover Abolitionist. And he had news to spread about the Underground Railroad.

Discover the forgotten life and true adventures of Alexander Milton Ross, daring Canadian activist, who risked everything — including his life — to help bring freedom and dignity to the heroic men and women enslaved in the American South.

Included at the end of the book: Historical Notes and a Time Line

About the authors

Troon Harrison's many picture books, stories for juniors, and teen/YA novels, are published in seven languages and in Braille, and appear in animated TV shows. She teaches creative writing, and edits for writers full-time from her office with a view of river and hills while her dog snores! When not writing, she loves to learn about local history, and to visit her horse. Among her many books, Courage to Fly was published by Red Deer Press in 2002.

Troon Harrison's profile page


L’œuvre de François Thisdale mélange les techniques traditionnelles et l’imagerie numérique. Il est l’illustrateur de The Stamp Collector, qui a été sur la liste d’honneur IBBY, That Squeak, un livre qui s’est mérité une mention d’honneur pour le prix IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver et Missing Nimama, lauréat du prix TD de littérature pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. François vit à Montréal, au Québec.


François Thisdale's work blends traditional drawing and painting with digital imagery. He is the illustrator of The Stamp Collector, which is on IBBY Honor List, That Squeak, an honour book for the IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik- Cleaver Picture Book Award, and Missing Nimama, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Book Award. François lives in Montreal, Quebec.


François Thisdale's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Striking illustrations in deep hues are inset over faint outlines of map grids and a naturalist's notebook of birds and flowers; they add a dreamlike quality to the daring, dangerous tales of a real-life secret agent."
Foreword Reviews

"Thisdale enhances his soft, muted paintings with digital tools, occasionally punctuated with realistic textures — a portion of fabric, a loaf of bread, a brick facade. Clothing, architecture, and furnishings are rendered in exquisite detail, authentic to the time. On close inspection, many spreads include antique maps. The faint outline of lakes, rivers, borders, and place names form discrete overlays, which add interest and depth to the pages.
"Harrison writes eloquently from the start, engaging readers and evoking clear images. Her meticulous descriptions, smoothly flowing text, and dramatic anecdotes create an inspiring story of high principles and steadfast morals. Those seeking books for children that promote "values" and integrity will find Harrison's story offers a fine model."
Quill & Quire

"The illustrations of François Thisdale, an artist of inimitable skill, blends the realistic with the ethereal and elevates Troon Harrison's story of abolitionist and birder Alexander Milton Ross from storybook to art book. . . Troon Harrison weaves these events about Alexander Milton Ross's life into a compelling narrative of a compassionate man of action while François Thisdale's artwork gives the story depth."
CanLit for LittleCanadians

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