Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ain't Nobody a Stranger to Me

This beautiful book is a story that takes place in about half an hour, as a grandfather takes his young granddaughter out to see his apple orchard in bloom.
She tells the story, perhaps to her own grandchild, of how her grandfather smiled and waved at everyone who passed by, and she asked him, "How come you know so many people?"

His classic reply: "Ain't nobody a stranger to me!"

Why? "Cause both me and my heart is free."

Such was not always the case, though. Ann Grifalconi's short book takes the reader on a powerful emotional journey through this country's past of slavery. The grandfather, his wife and baby daughter escaped to the North by crossing the Ohio River into freedom. The kindness of a stranger, a Quaker conductor for the Underground Railroad, taught him that there are really no strangers, and that by trusting the Good Lord, we get through.

The apple trees have significance too. Before his escape, the grandfather would keep apple seeds in his pocket to remind him that the day of freedom would come, when he could plant them on his own farm. He makes his granddaughter promise never to forget the story he's told her. And that's why she tells this story, which is based on a true story.

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