Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction General

The Last Safe House

A Story of the Underground Railroad

by (author) Barbara Greenwood

illustrated by Heather Collins

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Jun 1998
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 1998
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


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, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Alberta Children’s Choice Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner, Our Choice - Starred Selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award
  • Winner, Information Book Award, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
  • Winner, Teachers’ Choices, International Reading Association
  • 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 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.

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.

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

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.

Other titles by

Other titles by