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Day Of Tears: A Novel In Dialogue (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Emma is the property of Pierce Butler and has taken care of his daughters, Sarah and Frances, since their parents divorced. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, like their mother's, even as a rift in morals has ripped the Butler household apart. Sarah and her mother oppose the inhumanity of slavery, while Frances and her father believe in the Southern way of life and treatment of blacks.

Now, to pay off mounting gambling debts, Pierce decides to cash in his ...

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Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase ... benefits world literacy! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Emma is the property of Pierce Butler and has taken care of his daughters, Sarah and Frances, since their parents divorced. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, like their mother's, even as a rift in morals has ripped the Butler household apart. Sarah and her mother oppose the inhumanity of slavery, while Frances and her father believe in the Southern way of life and treatment of blacks.

Now, to pay off mounting gambling debts, Pierce decides to cash in his "assets" and host the biggest slave auction in American history. At the price of his humanity, he reaps just over $300,000 as the skies weep nonstop on the proceedings below. For although Butler had promised Emma's parents not to sell her, money, desperation, and greed enable him to justify any misdeed. Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, and shifting first-person points of view, readers will travel with Emma and others through time and place, and come to understand that every decision has consequences, and final judgments is handed down not by man, but by his maker.

Julius Lester, a master of storytelling, transforms this little-known piece of American history into one of the most dramatic and impressive works of his brilliant career.

Winner of the 2006 Coretta Scott King Author Award

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Unfolding like a play, Lester's novel in dialogue-based on actual events-cannot help but be informed by his research and writing for his 1969 Newbery Honor book, To Be a Slave. In many ways, the scenes here beg to be dramatized upon a stage; many sections read like monologues, but each contributes to a powerful whole. Some readers may initially have trouble connecting Emma, the children's nursemaid, to her parents, Mattie and Will, the master's manservant. As the book progresses, however, the relationships become crystal clear. The book opens as, in Mattie's words, "The rain is coming down as hard as regret." Master Butler is about to hold an auction to sell off 429 slaves in order to repay a gambling debt. Other details unfold, as Will mentions how he and Master Butler grew up together ("He used to look up to me like I was his big brother"); Emma mentions that Mistress Fannie left her husband a year before, and an author's note explains that Fannie Kemble, who opposed slavery, married Pierce Butler not knowing that he owned slaves. The ultimate betrayal occurs when Master Butler agrees to sell Emma, the only person whom Sara, his oldest child, trusts. Lester poignantly conveys how the auction polarizes the two sisters: Sara who detests slavery, and Frances who sides with her father. Some of the flashback sections (particularly that of the "slave-seller") interrupt the flow of events, but the novel provides a compelling opportunity for children to step into the shoes of those whose lives were torn apart by slavery. Ages 9-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
Day of Tears is a most provocative novel. Written in dialogue, different characters are used to divulge to the reader the story of slaves' lives both past, present, and future. From the white master, his children, house slaves and field hands to the auctioneer, everyone speaks. Seen through these different perspectives, the reader experiences the auction block, the separation of families, and the dehumanizing slavery brought to both white and black people. The format the author uses makes the story real. The deluge of rain in the story symbolizes God's tears as He looks down on His creation. This is a compelling story. 2005, Hyperion Books for Children, 177 pp., Ages young adult.
—Joy Frerichs
Children's Literature
During two rainy days in early March, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in America was held in Savannah, Georgia. Pierce Butler, a grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the former husband of English actress and abolitionist Fanny Kremble, sold more than 400 slaves to pay his gambling debts. Against the backdrop of the so-called "Weeping Time," award-winning author Julius Lester has woven different first-person voices—told in flashback and flash forward scenes—into a moving, generational tale. The main story line is that of Emma, the slave girl who takes care of Butler's children until he breaks a promise and sells her at the auction. Neither quite poetry nor a play, the book gives the voices of each character life and brings the reader closer to understanding, on an individual basis, the legacy of slavery and its impact on whites and blacks alike. The author is the Newbery Honor Book award winner for To Be a Slave. 2005, Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, Ages 9 to 13.
—Valerie O. Patterson
KLIATT
Nearly 200 years ago it rained for two days, merging God's tears with those of over 400 slaves auctioned in Georgia, separated from loved ones forever. In 13 chapters and 14 interludes, Lester shares their stories, beginning with Emma, the central character, who is sold unexpectedly, though she later escapes and eventually finds freedom in Canada. Other characters reveal how the auction changed their lives as well. The ambitious slave-seller loses his voice during the auction, ruining his career. Jeffrey's master is unable to buy his lover Dorcas, but he remains faithful to her and is crushed after the Civil War when he learns she is married to someone else. Emma shares the story of the day of tears with her granddaughter, who is doing a report on American slavery. She emphasizes the goodness of white abolitionists and others like her slave owner's daughter, for whom her own daughter was named. While it has become fashionable to tell slave stories from multiple perspectives, acknowledging that the institution devastated blacks and whites, leaving us all with a mixture of feelings, including guilt, this perspective seems contrived at times. The familiar types are all present: the loyal slave, the benevolent master/mistress, the devoted mammy figure, and the subversive slave. Yet, this book does what history texts are not designed to do: it humanizes the people involved as a Georgia plantation owner made history, having orchestrated the largest slave auction to ever take place. The final note from the author is especially important as it shares bibliographical sources used to create this novel, which reads more like a play. Many of the characters are based on real people and both the plotand subplots are influenced by real events that will capture the attention of young readers. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Hyperion, 175p. bibliog., Ages 12 to adult.
—KaaVonia Hinton
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Julius Lester's moving historical novel (Jump at the Sun, 2005) becomes a magnificent tapestry when performed in this full-cast recording. Based upon actual historical characters Pierce Butler and his ex-wife Fanny Kemble, the story begins during "The Weeping Time," the largest slave auction that was held in Georgia in 1859. In a rain "as hard as regret," that infamous event saw hundreds of families, marriages, and lovers torn apart as slave owner and plantation master Pierce Butler sold hundreds of slaves to pay off his gambling debts. "This ain't rain. This is God's tears" one slave intones as the auction begins. Lester's lyrical dialogue performed by different voices creates a powerful statement on the blinding injustice and cruelty of slavery. Narrator Dion Graham exudes a quiet intensity as slaves, owners, abolitionists, and children of slave and slave-master families tell their stories. Listeners will absorb the aching reality of slave life and get a sense of the monumental injustice of many lives sacrificed to support a way of life for a privileged few. Lester's literary device of using interludes in which characters reflect on their lives since the auction adds dimension and substance to this outstanding production. Children may be jarred by the frequent use of the word "nigger." Used in this historical context, the language helps to illustrate how people perceived African Americans. For older listeners, sections of the novel could be used for reader's theater.-Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library, Fremont, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On a day when rain came down "hard as sorrow," George Weems sets out to sell more slaves at one time than anyone ever had. Pierce Butler must sell off hundreds of slaves to cover gambling debts and 12-year-old Emma is one of his victims. Named after Lester's grandmother, whose mother was a slave, Emma is part of a large cast of characters-slaves, owners, businessmen and abolitionists-who tell their own stories, in their own voices. Interludes occasionally have characters return in old age to reflect on their lives since the auction, a brilliant technique that demonstrates, in some characters, the persistence of racist belief. Other, good-hearted, characters, white and black, act towards each other with respect and dignity and affirm the possibilities of conscience and common humanity even in the worst of times. This important novel, based on an actual slave auction in 1859, begs to be performed, though teachers and performers may be hesitant to utter the racist language of the day. Powerful theater and one of Lester's finest works. (cast of characters, author's note) (Fiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781417772421
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 177
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 15, 2012

    I gave this book an exceptional rating because it really moves y

    I gave this book an exceptional rating because it really moves you. For me it tugged on my heart in a way that I never could have imagined. This was the first time I have ever shed a tear reading a book. Not only did I shed a tear I balled more than once. I found this book so hard to put down after I started reading it. Sometimes I found myself putting myself in the main characters shoes and wondering what I would do in that predicament. As I was reading this book I noticed the pattern they set in the book and I felt the title fit it perfectly. I love this book and would recommend it to anyone that is tired of boring books with no sentiment and reality.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    Slavery- Justified or Unjustified

    Yes! This is an incredible book. An excellent source to teach about slavery. It has it's owned uniqued form of teaching slavery through dialogue. The language of these slaves are including in the dialogue to give us(readers) how they convey their dialect amongst one another. This book not only show the basic aspect of slavery, it a good source to get some understanding of the relationship between slaves and slave owners.I highly recommend this book for a resource in social studies and history classes. It also can be use as a resource for multicultural literature.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue

    Julius Lester's novel, Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, is a touching story of a young slave named Emma. She, along with her mother and father, work for Pierce Butler's family. Emma accompanies Pierce to a slave auction in order to care for his children. Despite his original intentions, Pierce breaks his promise to Emma's parents and sells her for a large price. While working on Mistress Henfield's plantation, Emma and her friend Joe often discuss the idea of being free and finally decide to make the dream a reality.

    Day of Tears is a great inside look at the issue of slavery. Lester effectively captures the emotions, feelings, and attitudes of not only slaves, but also masters and the advocates for or against slavery. The writing style which he chose to use in this book allows the reader to become captivated by and absorbed in the story. Lester not only uses dialogue between the characters to tell Emma's story, but also flashbacks, inner character thoughts, and foreshadowing to bring this story to life. Furthermore, it is a quick read, yet it allows the reader to connect with and feel the emotions of the characters. It is also fairly easy to read and understand, making this book suitable for anyone grades 4 or above. Middle school students, especially, would be a good audience for this novel. I, personally, did not find objective material in it, but adults should be prepared to discuss and elaborate on the issue of slavery with young students who choose to read this book.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Awesome book

    This book is very well written about the biggest slave auction. The whole book is written in dialogue and I don't think it should of been wtiiten any other way. It is sad and it teaches American history and what went on during slavery. Once you open this book you will not want to put it down. It is a easy read and I recommend it to everyone to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2008

    A Capturing Read

    This book is amazing. I love the way it's written. It's unique and it makes the book more fun to red. It also gives the book a better understanding because you can hear everyone's point of view.It's also a good reference for history.Read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    Pure genius.

    This book is so amazing, it is hard to stop reading it. For some reason, it never gets old. I still nearly cry whenever I read the sad parts, like when family is seperated or someone dies. It is an amazing mix of fact and fiction, not to mention regular prose writing and script dialouge.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2008

    confounding and life changing

    As Julius Lester takes you through the wrinkles of time to the period of the enslavement of African Americans he brilliantly paints a clear picture of the emotions and distress of the people. Taking you to the largest slave auction ever held in the world Lester sets the scene as you encounter the struggles slaves had to overcome. As the story is carefully unfolded Julius also describes the seperation of families and friends as more and more slaves were sold, the auction producing a whopping 300,000 dollars worth of slaves, yet trillions of dollars worth of sorrow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2008

    THE BEST BOOK EVER

    I could read this over and over. I like how the hole thin is in dialog. And how it goes into the future amnd back into the past. THe book was sad too. I would recomend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    Hello

    I dont like depressing books

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2007

    A Fantastic Book

    I really liked this book because it is written all in dialogue. It was extremely well written and I finished it in less than a day, and I would read it again in a flash. This book deserves many awards.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    read

    this is the best book i have basically read everybody has to read this i Julius lester did a great job

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2007

    A 'Must Read' for All Students

    This book is definately a 'Must Read' for all students studying American History and slavery. Sad but poignant, it is a true account with fictionalized characters of the largest Slave Auction in U.S. history. Gives a true sense of what it must have been like for the slaves, to be thought of as nothing more than chattel, bought and sold as livestock, with no with thought given to their feelings. An excellent book and very deserving of the nomination for the California Young Reader Medal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2006

    Tears to your eyes

    Lester, Julius. Day of Tears. New York: Jump at the Sun Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. Tears to Your Eyes *****outstanding Day of Tears is a book about a man that is deep in debt. He is trying to erase his debt by selling his slaves. This book explains how the slaves felt about being sold. This book is about the troubles and hardship that the slaves had to face and conquer. The conflict of the story is when Pierce Butler sells Emma and Joe to Mistress Henfield. Emma and Joe have to change to a different style of life. During the course of the book, it explains how Emma has to deal with her emotions while being separated from her family. I thought the book was really great. It has so many opinions, emotions, and hardships involved in it it will make you cry. Emma is a strong girl and has trouble dealing with her family being away from her. I really liked Emma. She was passionate about Pierce Butler¿s children like the time when Sarah was crying for her mother. Emma dropped what she was doing and rushed to comfort Sarah until Sarah went to sleep. In my opinion, all of the characters were fully developed. I really connected with Emma throughout the whole story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2009

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