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"I am thinking of Mingo all the time. Maybe the Underground Railroad will help Mingo, like they helped us."
Corey Birdsong[2]

Flying Free: Corey's Diary, Book Two is the second book about the character Corey Birdsong in the My America series. It was published by Scholastic in May 2002. The book was written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Its sequel, Message in the Sky, followed in May 2003.

After settling in Canada, Corey Birdsong worries about his friend, Mingo, whom the left behind in Kentucky.

Dedication

"For Lewis and Nan"

Book description

"After fleeing the South along the Underground Railroad, Corey and his family have now found refuge in Canada. They settle into their new home, make friends, and purchase their own land. Corey even gets to go to school. But danger remains as slave catchers lurk across the river in Ohio."

Plot

Corey Birdsong and his family settle in Amherstburg, Canada. They initially live in a church courtesy of Reverend Binga. Corey meets several friendly faces, including two children his age, Gwen Thurman and George Davis. His parents soon find jobs as a blacksmith and seamstress. They plan to save their wages in order to purchase a farm. Meanwhile, Corey begins to miss his old friend, Mingo, who stayed behind in Kentucky.

That July, Corey's father met Mr. Bentley, who gave him a job at his smithy. The Birdsongs then moved into a small house on the Bentleys land. On his birthday, Corey decided to write a letter to Mingo. Knowing that Mingo could not read well, he simply wrote "Amherstburg. Your friend, C." A couple days later, Gwen's parents invited Corey and his family to their home. They offered to sell some of their land to the Birdsongs. The Thurmans wanted them to become neighbors and offered them a good price.

In mid-August, Corey was approached by a suspected slave catcher. He ran away from the man, but accidentally left behind his baby sister, Star. She was found safe later that day. Corey later begins attending school in September with Gwen and George. The following month, he received a letter from Mingo, in which he drew the North Star. Corey surmised that Mingo was coming to Canada. After his family made their first payment to the Thurmans, Corey had to take a break from school to help his father build their cabin. The cabin was quickly finished within a few weeks.

After Christmas, the postmaster's son Pierre Peche informs Corey that a package is awaiting him across the river in the United States. Corey suspects that it is Mingo and crosses the river, despite being terribly sick. He and Mingo then spend much of January and February recovering. In the interim, Corey's family and friends write get well messages in his journal. He and Mingo are able to start school in March. In his last entry, Corey writes that he will become a teacher someday.

Characters

Main article: List of characters in Corey's Diaries
  • Corey Birdsong, a ten-year-old who escaped slavery with his parents. He lives in Amherstburg, Canada, where he makes new friends and goes to school.
  • Angel and Roland Birdsong are Corey's parents. After escaping slavery, they make a new life for themselves in Canada. Roland works as a blacksmith, while Angel becomes a seamstress.
  • Mingo is Corey's best friend, who stayed behind in Kentucky. Corey worries about him often and finds a way to send him a letter secretly.

Author

Main article: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Sharon Dennis Wyeth (born in Washington, D.C.) is an African-American writer. She authored three books in the My America series, including Freedom's Wings, Flying Free, and Message in the Sky. Dennis Wyeth has also written Something Beautiful (1998), A Piece of Heaven (2001), and The Granddaughter Necklace (2013).

Dennis Wyeth visited Amherstburg, Canada in preparation for Flying Free. She was eager to write the book after "hearing the stories of the industrious and successful lives black refugees forged in Canada."

Sequel

Main article: Message in the Sky

Flying Free was followed by Message in the Sky, the third and final book in Corey's Diaries. It was published by Scholastic in May 2003.

Acknowledgments

"The author wishes to thank Carl Westmoreland of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Kirk Miner of the Jack Miner Foundation, naturalist Mike Anderson, and the New Jersey Audubon Society Schermann-Hoffman Sanctuary. Deepest appreciation goes to curator Elise Harding-Davis, research assistant Nneka Allen, and the North American Black Historical Museum in Amherstburg, Ontario. The stanza from "The Bluebird" by Emily H. Miller and the excerpt about Mr. Audobon and his pictures (paraphrased by the author) were found in a nineteenth-century edition of Monroe's Fourth Reader, published by Westcott and Thomson. The Freedom's-Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada, by Daniel G. Hill, published in 1992 by Stoddart Publishing Company, Toronto, provided a wealth of background information. Editor Amy Griffin's perfect touch, as always, contributed greatly."

References

See also


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