Day of Tears

Day of Tears

4.6 18
by Julius Lester

View All Available Formats & Editions

On March 2 and 3, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. More than 400 slaves were sold. On the first day of the auction, the skies darkened and torrential rain began falling. The rain continued throughout the two days, stopping only when the auction had ended. The simultaneity of the rain storm with the auction led


On March 2 and 3, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. More than 400 slaves were sold. On the first day of the auction, the skies darkened and torrential rain began falling. The rain continued throughout the two days, stopping only when the auction had ended. The simultaneity of the rain storm with the auction led to these two days being called "the weeping time." Master storyteller Julius Lester has taken this footnote of history and created the crowning achievement of his literary career.

Julius Lester tells the story of several characters including Emma, a slave owned by Pierce Butler and caretaker of his two daughters, and Pierce, a man with a mounting gambling debt and household to protect. Emma wants to teach his daughters-one who opposes slavery and one who supports it-to have kind hearts. Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to survive, Pierce decides to cash in his "assets" and host the largest slave auction in American history. And on that day, the skies open up and weep endlessly on the proceedings below.

Using the multiple voices of enslaved Africans and their owners, Julius Lester has taken a little-known, all-true event in American history and transformed it into a heartbreaking and powerfully dramatic epic on slavery, and the struggle to affirm humanity in the midst of it.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Julius Lester turned to writing after spending time as a photographer, musician, and political activist in the 1960s. His more than forty books for adults and children have garnered many awards, including ALA Notable citations and a Coretta Scott King Honor. To Be a Slave was a Newbery Honor Book, and John Henry received a Boston Globe-Horn Book award and a Caldecott Honor.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Day of Tears 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
YOLO More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
k_bPB More than 1 year ago
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.
JenLyn2 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SusieP23 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is the best book i have basically read everybody has to read this i Julius lester did a great job
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
I dont like depressing books