Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad


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RINGGOLD, Faith. Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky. New York: Crown, (1992). Tall quarto, original pictorial laminated paper boards, original dust jacket.

First edition of the renowned African American artist's critically-praised second children's book, boldly inscribed by her, "To A— Faith Ringgold 2/6/93."

Pioneering African American artist Faith Ringgold "is best known for her richly referential, painted story quilts" (Art Newspaper). In 1991 Ringgold published her first book, Tar Beach, which was inspired by her 1988 story quilt of the same title. Here, in Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad, Ringgold continues the story of Cassie Lightfoot, who has time-traveled and is trapped in the antebellum South. Cassie is guided to freedom by Harriet Tubman, who tells Cassie "about slavery (as represented in five powerful paintings) and what it would be like to make the perilous journey to freedom. Cassie is shown following the trail, taking refuge in an attic, looking for such signals as 'a star quilt flung on the roof,' hiding in a coffin, and finally flying over Niagara Falls to Canada." Ringgold's lyrical and moving narrative, and "robust, authoritative paintings are splendid. Among many memorable images are dark, crowded rows of barely suggested faces on a slave ship… and Cassie triumphant above thundering falls, painted in broad, free strokes. A unique and creative vision" (Kirkus).

"Whether on canvas, paneled quilts or in children's books, Ringgold is a storyteller… all contribute to her grander enterprise, in which narrative is deployed as a powerful force, taking back histories and suggesting alternatives to the status quo" (Guardian). First edition, first printing: issued simultaneously in pictorial laminated boards (this copy), and in a library binding. This copy with publisher's small promotional label on front dust jacket panel: "By the author of the award-winning Tar Beach."

A fine inscribed copy.

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