Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"Snow geese fly north. I show Mama. I want to go where they are going. Trust me, I tell her. This is our time. I do trust, Mama tells me. But I am scared. Do not want my son hurt. Let us take our chance, Mama. We must choose quick, while Mr. Renfield is here. I want to be free. I want to see Daddy. Mama say, we will try. We will take this chance that God has sent us."
Corey Birdsong[2]

Freedom's Wings: Corey's Diary is a fictional diary in Scholastic's My America series. The book is the first to feature Corey Birdsong as the main character. It was published in May 2001 and reissued a year later with a new cover design. The book was written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth.

Corey Birdsong and his family escape from the Hart plantation via the Underground Railroad to find freedom in Canada.


"For Georgia"

Book description[]

"March 22, 1858
Mama and me ran. Our turn to fly. We will meet up with Daddy someday. Mr. Renfield said we will make that happen.
Mama and me in a cave.
Got onions rubbed on our feet. Them dogs can't smell us that way. We wait for dark. No one can see us. Follow the drinkin' gourd, say Mr. Renfield. You will taste your freedom. What does freedom taste like? Where is Daddy?
Having learned to read and write from his father, Corey Birdsong records in his diary his daily life as a slave on the Hart Farm. But when Corey's father flees to the North, Corey's fate changes as he and his mother make the dangerous journey along the Underground Railroad.

"Kentucky to Ohio, 1857
Corey's story begins...

In Book One of his diary, Corey Birdsong's fate changes when his father flees the Kentucky plantation where they are slaves. Now Corey and his mother must head towards freedom, too, along the Underground Railroad.


Nine-year-old Corey Birdsong and his parents, Angel and Roland, are slaves on a plantation owned by the Hart family. Corey's father has secretly taught him how to read and write, and has given him a book to record this thoughts. One day, the family is visited by a freeman preacher, who tells them about the Underground Railroad. Roland soon begins to contemplate escaping, though his wife is terrified.

That September, Corey overhears Master Hart's plans to sell Roland to his cousin. Corey's father escapes with his friend Charles. A few days later, Charles is caught after being separated from Roland. Master Hart posts a hefty reward for Roland's return. Corey writes less and less in his book over the next few months since his father is no longer there to read it. In March 1858, the Hart family is visited by Mr. Renfield, who is interested in birds. Due to Corey's knowledge of birds, the Harts lend him to Mr. Renfield.

Mr. Renfield reveals his acquaintance with Roland, and wishes to help Corey and Angel escape. Corey manages to convince his mother to go, though she worries about her pregnancy. They make their way to a schoolhouse by the end of March. Later, the two are found by a slave named Nerva. She hides them in a hole, where John Parker retrieves them. He takes them across the river into Ohio. In late April, they are staying with some Quakers in Owl Creek. Angel stays behind since she ready to give birth, while Corey sets out to find his father.

Corey and a freeman, Tut, are heading towards Oberlin, Roland's last reported destination. However, Tut is captured by slave catchers and Corey becomes lost. An undertaker finds him and an Indian takes him to Oberlin, where he stays with Dodd. Many days past and Corey is unable to find his father. One night, Corey does one of his bird calls, when his father happens by. They leave to retrieve Angel, who has given birth to a girl, Star. The family then head towards the final destination, Canada.

Historical Note[]

The northern states of the United States of America were all opposed to slavery by 1857, while slave owners from the south were determined to continue slavery. Many enslaved persons attempted to escape with help from the Underground Railroad. The organization was made up of all kinds of people, including Harriet Tubman, John Parker, and John Rankin. Due to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, many former enslaved people were at risk of being forced back to slavery even if they reached free states like Ohio. This lead to many fleeing to Canada. The section includes seven pictures depicting life at the time.


Main article: List of characters in Corey's Diaries
  • Corey Birdsong, a young slave with a talent for bird calls. Him and his mother escape the plantation in March 1858 with the help of an abolitionist.
  • Angel and Roland Birdsong are Corey's parents. Roland ran away in late 1857, after hearing about his owner's plans to sell him. Angel follows with Corey a few months later.


Main article: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Sharon Dennis Wyeth is a writer, educator, and speaker. She often deals with literacy, racial harmony, identity, and poverty in her work.[3] Wyeth is the author of Corey's books in the My America series, including Flying Free and Message in the Sky. In the "About the Author" section, she writes "I found it easy to slip into Corey's world. Part of that is because I've read so much history. But it's also because I feel close to my slave ancestors."

Shared continuity[]

Corey's story is continued in the sequel, Flying Free (2002). It follows Corey and his parents as they settle into their new life in Canada. The trilogy concludes in Message in the Sky, which was published in 2003.



  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2002)[5]


"The author wishes to thank the following people and institutions for generously sharing their knowledge and publications with her: Betty Campbell of the John Parker Historical Society, Carl Westmoreland of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Tom Appleton of the Kentucky Historical Society, Ohio naturalists Tom Thomson and Bob Conlon. Also to New Jersey Audubon Society, Schermann-Hoffman Sanctuary, and naturalist Mike Anderson for a lengthy consultation at the sanctuary. She also wishes to acknowledge her editor, Amy Griffin, whose skill and enthusiasm she greatly admires."


  • The portrait of Corey on the cover was illustrated by Glenn Harrington.[6]


See also[]

External links[]