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|All different now : Juneteenth, the first day of freedom|
Author: Johnson, Angela
In 1865, members of a family start their day as slaves, working in a Texas cotton field, and end it celebrating their freedom on what came to be known as Juneteenth.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.10
Points: .5 Quiz: 166424
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 66806
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/15/14)
School Library Journal (+) (05/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (06/14)
The Hornbook (+) (00/05/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2014 On June 19, 1865, a young slave girl and her family go about their daily routine, unaware that their lives are about to change. They wake to the smell of honeysuckle before they get ready to work all day in the hot fields of Texas. Before long, word spreads even to them: “We were all / now and forever free / and things / would be / all different now.” Thus begin the celebrations that will be commemorated as Juneteenth, the day Texas slaves finally learned about their rights as freed people, a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Rich, subdued watercolors convey the celebrations with dignity and awe. Each page shows the slaves as a collective people, finally seeing a brighter future within reach. Johnson’s attached verse enables younger readers to see the momentous nature of this date, while back matter appropriate for older readers provides a time line and other important factual references. A worthy addition to any collection on the topic. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2014 Gr 3 Up—Previous picture books about Juneteenth (the holiday celebrating the day slaves were freed in Texas—two years after the rest of the country) have focused on contemporary children discovering this quirk of history. Valerie Wesley's Freedom's Gifts (S. & S., 1997) and Carole Boston Weatherford's Juneteenth Jamboree (Lee & Low, 1995) fall into that category. Johnson imagines what it would be like to be a slave one minute and a free person the next. Spare text, structured as free verse, hones in on the smell of honeysuckle and breakfast routines as the day begins, like any other. The titular phrase appears three times: first to build suspense, then to indicate the earthshaking import of the message spreading from the port, and, finally, to reflect on the consequences. Lewis paints details not mentioned. The protagonist is a girl living in the slave quarters with her siblings and mother. They are working in the cotton fields when the news arrives. Skillful watercolor renderings depict nuanced changes in lighting and focus, thereby capturing individual responses to a community's new reality—from incredulity and quiet contemplation to rapture. Occasional panels indicate passing time; the brilliant clarity of the fields at noon fades to a green-blue gauze over the revelers heading home from a late-night celebration. A time line, glossary, overview, list of websites, and notes by author and illustrator provide deeper understanding. With a narrative notable for its understated simplicity and lack of judgment, this title allows readers to draw their own conclusions. An affecting entrée to a challenging conversation.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2014 On a Texas plantation, dawn comes to a girl and the rest of the enslaved workers as usual, and “nobody knew . . . that soon it would all be different.” Later that day, however, the word comes about the Union general’s proclamation enforcing the emancipation of the slaves, and the news transforms the girl’s existence. People cheer, and whisper, and pray, and they “told stories as free people/ on/ into/ the night”; the girl goes to bed knowing that the next dawn brings a time “that will be for all of us,/ all different now.” Although the end matter is plenty informative, the main text isn’t so much about relaying facts as it is about depicting the emotion of a life-transforming, generations-transforming, epoch-transforming moment; Johnson’s quiet ragged-right prose has a credible breathlessness as it conveys the mixture of stunned amazement and sheer joy. Lewis’ limpid watercolors are low-key, his usual chiaroscuro effectively illuminating the diurnal progress of the text as well as the emotional shades of the story; the blinding bleached tones of the cotton field under the Texas sun contrast with the sweet blue night of jubilation. This is an emotive and effective way to take emancipation from a historic date to the experience of people whose lives changed, and it’ll open kids’ eyes to the impact of the transition. Moving notes from Johnson and from Lewis (who talks about his use of models and his artistic choices as well as his personal relationship with the story), a timeline, an explanation of Juneteenth, a glossary, and a list of online sources are appended. DS - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.