Thursday, June 19, 2014

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Today is Juneteenth, a day of rejoicing and celebration!

In this lovely, simple story, Angela Johnson imagines how it was on that June 19, 1865 morning when a group of Texas slaves were finally told about the Emancipation Proclamation and that they were now a free people.

Waking up to the smell of honeysuckle inside a wooden cabin, going out to the fields to pick cotton, the day begins like every other day for a young girl, her mother, brother and sisters.  But then, under the hot Texas sun, word slowly spreads that a Union General has read out loud from a nearby house that freedom has at long last arrived.

Johnson goes on to imagine reactions and celebrations, the quiet rejoicing and the realization that things will be all different now.

Told so eloquently, using the barest number of words, and complimented by E. B. Lewis's beautiful, realistic though almost impressionistic feeling watercolor illustrations, this is a book that everyone should read, reread and talk about.

There is both an Author's Note and Illustrator's Note, a short timeline of events from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, a history of the celebration of Juneteenth, a combination of the words June and nineteenth, and a small glossary of terms younger readers might not be familiar with.  Be sure to read this back matter for a deeper, more appreciative understanding of the importance of this relatively unknown celebration.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

1 comment:

  1. This stunningly beautiful book just went to the very top of my must look for list. I can’t think how it would have felt on that June morning, but I imagine a little fear must have mingled with the joy.


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