by Janice Hinshaw Baylis & Audrey Hinshaw Welch
Illustrated by Lisa Baylis de Torres
Jasmine’s Justice, written by Janice Hinshaw Baylis and Audrey Hinshaw Welch, is a children’s historical fiction chapter book about a runaway slave family and their journey in the Underground Railroad. The author (Janice) actually lived in an Underground Railroad safe house in Beloit, Wisconsin- which you see pictured on the front of the book above. This picture shown on the book above was taken in 1857.
Jasmine’s Justice is written in two different parts.
Part I takes place in 1857. The story is about Jasmine, and her family who are slaves to the Bigelow family. The Bigelow family meets a financial crisis and decides to sell some of their slaves, which would split Jasmine’s family apart. Determined to keep their family together, the family sneak out at night and run away to the Underground Railroad, trying to stay safe until they reach Canada. The family makes it up to the safe house shown on the book cover in Beloit, Wisconsin- where tragedy occurs. Jasmine suffers from appendicitis and passes away. Before she dies, however, she hides her picture diary in a hollow bed post which no one can find….
Part II takes place in 1936, the late depression era. A new family moves into the old Beloit house, and Jasmine’s spirit visits the new child in a dream, which leads her and her sister to find Jasmine’s hidden picture diary. A piece of history is found!
Janice is a retired Reading Specialist teacher. What I really loved in this book is that Janice’s granddaughter actually drew the pictures that you can find throughout this book! It really makes it more realistic since Jasmine (the main character in Part I) is only 10 years old. It really helps bring the story to life in a visual way.
I really enjoyed this book- it definitely took some turns I wasn’t expecting! It is a really nice children’s book. It is what I consider a “PG” book- there is nothing scary in this book other than the fact that Jasmine dies, and there is a bully in one section. This is a great option for upper elementary students and older. I loved that this book is based on so many real events and real places. There are pictures of the Bigelow mansion, of the Beloit safe house, the handdrawn pictures from the little girl and original buildings from that era.
In the back of the book after the story there is more information in the appendixes about pinhole cameras, real historical plantations & mansions, and the list of drawings.
Q&A with the Author
1. What inspired us to write Jasmine’s Justice?
a. It was an interesting and fun house
b. When my sister, Audrey, retired she became depressed. She didn’t know what to do with her time. I suggested writing the long overdue book. She perked right up.
c. Having taught many black children in primary grades for 36 years, I wanted to cast them in a positive light.
2. Was there a lot of research involved?
Yes, quite a bit. Things like Kentucky slavery; Illinois routes north; Indians and Quakers; Dred Scott and ways north from Beloit needed research.
3. What was it like growing up in an Underground Railroad house?
a. FUN, it was fun! We were the envy of our schoolmates.
b. We had great birthday and Halloween parties.
c. We watched Beloit College football games from the cupola.
d. My brother sent me all over the house with notes like “Look under the stage for your Christmas present.” Finally I found my first pair of shoe ice skates – WHITE! It was worth every step.
e. Riding the dumb waiter from the master bedroom to the dining room to the kitchen was neat.
f. Making a club house in the smoke house was great for me and Jean Door my best friend. We made orange crate furniture.
g. My brothers enjoyed making and playing a miniature golf course in the big yard.
h. Stuff in the library room and the attic was very interesting.
4. How long did it take to write the book?
It took about nine months, we lived fifty miles apart. Once we got started it moved right along.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review. I did receive a free book to read. All opinions are 100% mine.