Hope's Gift

Overview

A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

It’s 1862 and the Civil War has turned out to be a long, deadly conflict. Hope’s father can’t stand the waiting a minute longer and decides to join the Union army to fight for freedom. He slips away one tearful night, leaving Hope, who knows she may never see her father again, with only a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, Papa says, echoes the promised song of freedom. It’s a long wait for ...

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Overview

A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

It’s 1862 and the Civil War has turned out to be a long, deadly conflict. Hope’s father can’t stand the waiting a minute longer and decides to join the Union army to fight for freedom. He slips away one tearful night, leaving Hope, who knows she may never see her father again, with only a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, Papa says, echoes the promised song of freedom. It’s a long wait for freedom and on the nights when the cannons roar, Papa seems farther away than ever. But then Lincoln finally does it: on January 1, 1863, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, and a joyful Hope finally spies the outline of a familiar man standing on the horizon.

Affectingly written and gorgeously illustrated, Hope’s Gift captures a significant moment in American history with deep emotion and a lot of charm.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
The war continues on and Hope's father is tired of waiting for something to happen. In their small cabin on Christmas night, he gathers his children and wife into his arms and talks of freedom and the need to go away, to fight with others who are fighting for his freedom. Hope knows that it will be a long time before she sees her father again. Her father has left her a conch shell that has the sound of the ocean when she holds it to her ear. Her father has told her that the sound is the sound of freedom and nothing can keep freedom from coming. The next morning, the white master is very angry because he has lost one of his workers in the night and as more run away from the plantation and the slavery, the master puts the children to work in the fields. Now, instead of watching after Henry and the younger children, Hope works alongside her mother in the fields from dawn to dusk. Nothing can keep her from thinking about her father and praying for his safety. The neighbors all sing in the night, praying for freedom as her mother reminds her of the fight her father is in and the promises he has made. On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, setting the slaves free, Lyons has written a beautiful, touching story of a little girl who never loses hope. The illustrations are simple, with rich, dark tones that will appeal to the young reader, involving them in the emotion of the story. The historical information offered is accurate and depictions of slave life on a plantation are presented in an honest, straightforward manner. The author's note presents facts surrounding the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This is an excellent choice for social science curriculums in early education collections. Reviewer: Joyce Rice
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Hope's father flees the plantation where he works for the Master to fight against slavery. He leaves his daughter with a conch shell and tells her to hold it to her ear to hear the sound of freedom, which will come one day. Hope, her brother, and their mother miss Papa terribly. Seasons pass, holidays come and go, but still he has not returned. Life is difficult, particularly working in the cotton fields, and made worse by her worry about her father. One day, she looks up to see him with a troop of Union soldiers marching up the road. Not only is he home at last, but he also brings the promise that freedom is at hand. The author tells a story of sadness, separation, and love; a story of sacrifice and freedom. Readers cannot avoid the parallels between Papa's leaving to fight for freedom and the Master's leaving his young daughter to fight against the emancipation; the separation for each child is equally painful. Illustrations are drawn with simple lines and soft colors, using somewhat exaggerated head sizes, which emphasizes characters' emotions. The most effective scene shows plantation workers singing and praying for their freedom in the woods on New Year's Eve. Bare winter trees are silhouetted against the dark sky, with the gathered individuals shown in expressive poses as they worship. Hope is in the foreground, her arms open wide with anticipation. A general purchase for all collections.—Mary Hazelton, formerly at Warren & Waldoboro Elementary Schools, ME
Kirkus Reviews
During the Civil War, an enslaved girl awaits her father's homecoming and emancipation. Hope's father gives her a conch shell the Christmas Eve that he runs away to fight for the Union Army; he tells her that the sound she hears is "the sound of freedom." Through the following months, as news of the war filters through the cotton fields and the slave quarters, Hope finds strength and courage listening to her shell. Then the best news of all is whispered from ear to ear: President Abraham Lincoln is issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Nothing much changes on the plantation, though, until finally Papa arrives with other "colored soldiers" and takes his family into his arms and away from slavery. Lyons gives Hope a strong and very sympathetic voice, while Tate uses colored pencils and gouache in a folk-art style to imbue the characters with dignity. The stark fact that Hope, a child, is sent to work in the cotton fields is stated in a matter-of-fact tone, though the illustrations are softened through a muted palette that helps manage the horror. A warm story about the love of a family and the jubilation of freedom; it commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399160011
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 12/27/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 446,310
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Starling Lyons lives in Raleigh, N.C.
Don Tate lives in Austin, TX.

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