Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
Children's LiteraturePart of the "On My Own Holidays" series, this book celebrates the relatively unknown Texas holiday of Juneteenth, so named for the date June 19th, 1865. This is the day that the glorious news finally reached Texas, two years late, that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by Abraham Lincoln. It had taken that long for the news to reach southern Texas that slavery had been outlawed. Blacks were overjoyed and decided one year later to observe June 19th, or Juneteenth as they called it, yearly as a celebration of freedom. Dances, fairs, and speeches remind all of that joyous occasion. Sensitive colored chalk illustrations and text briefly describe slavery in the South, the Civil War, and Mr. Lincoln's proclamation. The State of Texas now recognizes Juneteenth as a state holiday. A balanced addition to the multicultural library, it includes a glossary of terms. 2006, Millbrook Press, and Ages 7 to 9.
Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library JournalGr 2-4-Washington describes the burning of the White House as seen through the eyes of President Madison's slave, 15-year-old Paul Jennings. The account unfolds chronologically during August and September 1814. A brief, vague explanation for the presence of British soldiers is given. Dialogue, thoughts, and other events are compiled from cited, primary sources written by Jennings; French John, the head servant; and First Lady Dolley Madison. Notable for telling a historical event from the viewpoint of a slave, the book fails to show the nature of slavery objectively. Whereas the afterword reveals that Dolley Madison sold Jennings after her husband's death, the story's illustrations depict Jennings as equal to employee French John rather than as property. Jennings wears fine clothes, speaks freely to the First Lady, and appears to have unlimited access to the President's home. In contrast, Juneteenth shows the relief of slaves in Galveston, TX, when freedom was proclaimed, emphasizing that slaves were not ordinary workers but forced laborers. The description of slavery is brave in its honesty, difficult to read but necessary to understand. The Civil War and President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation are also included, but the emphasis remains on the news of freedom--it traveled slowly, was heard with disbelief, and was celebrated on June 19, 1865, with picnics, song, and parades. The book concludes by describing modern Juneteenth celebrations and remembrances across the country. Realistic paintings in vibrant colors illustrate these easy readers.-Julie R. Ranelli, Episcopal Center for Children, Washington, DC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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