by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle (Author) Alex Bostic (Illustrator)
This lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today.
After 300 years of forced bondage;
hands bound, descendants of Africa
picked up their souls--all that they owned--
leaving shackles where they fell on the ground,
headed for the nearest resting place to be found.
Deeply emotional, evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States. This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.
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Gr 1-4--Juneteenth, an important celebration of the end of slavery, was first celebrated in Texas in 1865. This was several years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, when enslaved individuals learned of their freedom. Rolle's poem offers glimpses of the joy of freedom, the hardships of the years after, and how Juneteenth has evolved over time. Many lines directly quote the Emancipation Proclamation, such as "All who live in bondage here shall from now until be free." Spreads give more context to the meaning behind the freedom Juneteenth celebrates through depictions of formerly enslaved individuals moving forward and finally celebrating in modern times with friends and family. Some sections of the poem rhyme, and some read more like free verse. The poem has an overall lyrical feel that evokes a range of emotions, from sadness for the realities of the many hardships still faced right after emancipation, to the hope and resilience of newfound freedom. Each stanza is paired with gorgeous and warm artwork that complements the text. In the author's note, Rolle includes more of the history behind Juneteenth, which only became recognized as a national holiday in 2021. This book presents historical moments in an accessible way, through artwork and poetry. VERDICT A worthy purchase for elementary libraries needing nonfiction texts for the Juneteenth holiday.--Molly DettmanCopyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Kincaid Rolle and Bostic's foray into Juneteenth's history opens without preamble, centering the enslaved Black residents of Galveston, Tex., as news of freedom arrives via the Emancipation Proclamation: "ALL WHO LIVE IN BONDAGE/ HERE SHALL FROM/ NOW UNTIL/ BE FREE." Realistic oil illustrations depict portraits and landscapes in the time and place, while sometimes-rhyming text traces individual reactions: "after 300 years of forced bondage, / hands bound," some people rest, while others sing and dance, give thanks, and decide whether to stay or go elsewhere. Soon, images transition to show a contemporary America, where children "of the ones who were held.../ celebrate the day their forebears could shout/ 'FREE AT LAST!' " A largely earth-toned color palette distinguishes Bostic's art, which tenderly portrays brown-skinned characters' detailed facial expressions across environments and generations. Together, the creators emphasize the value of freedom embodied by the "symbolic holiday." A contextualizing author's note concludes. Ages 4-8. (May)Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.