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Trouble Don’t Last

ISBN: 0-375-81490-6

220 pages

Publisher: Knopf

Setting: Kentucky, Ohio, and Canada in 1859

Curriculum connections

Underground Railroad, African-American History, Civil War.


Recommended for Grades 4 to 8.

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New! Available in audiobook by Recorded Books. Order here.

Trouble Don't Last




The Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Best Children’s Book of the Year/Outstanding Merit from Bank Street College of Education

Booklist Editors’ Choice

New York Public Library Top 100

Booklist’s Top Ten First Novels  & Top Ten Historical Fiction


State Awards: Jefferson Cup Honor Book (Virginia), Ohioana Book Award (Ohio), Mark Twain Award nominee (Missouri), Sunshine State nominee (Florida), Rebecca Caudill Award nominee (llinois),

Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.


Eleven-year-old Samuel was born as Master Hackler’s slave, and working on the Kentucky farm is the only life he’s ever known -- until one dark night in 1859. Without warning, Samuel is pulled from his bed by Harrison, the oldest slave on Master’s farm. And together, they run.

Through the compelling words of Samuel, Trouble Don’t Last takes readers on the runaways’ emotional journey north.  As Samuel and Harrison move from one dangerous refuge to the next, they must learn to trust strangers—and each other.  But no one is exactly what they seem to be…and the outcome of the courageous journey will leave readers breathless. 

Scott O'Dell Medal
John Parker House



“A suspenseful, emotional story.” 

USA Today


“Gripping from beginning to end.”                 Publishers’ Weekly, starred


“Astonishing…a thrilling escape story...”                          

Booklist, starred


“A gutsy depiction of the Underground Railroad, made all the more real with striking characters and raw drama.”       

Family Fun Magazine


“One of the best Underground Railroad narratives in recent years.”  

Kirkus Reviews

Ohio River

Quick Classroom Idea


Post-It Note It: Collect and display the MANY examples of figurative language (metaphors and similes) found in Trouble Don't Last.

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