Gr. 2-4 As the school year lengthens well into June and as Juneteenth celebrations gain footing across much of the country, books on this grassroots holiday, which celebrates the belated arrival of emancipation news to Texas slaves on June 19, 1865, are sure to become increasingly popular. This entry in the On My Own Holidays series offers a solid introduction to the holiday for independent readers or for presenting to small groups. At times the historical overview sacrifices nuance for concision (not every abolitionist, for instance, "believed that blacks and whites were equal"), but the understated narrative draws children in with a dramatization of Galveston slaves receiving the long-delayed news, followed by powerful accounts of the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the incremental emancipation process. Schroder's pastel illustrations can appear muddy, but at their best, leaping, embracing figures convey the resilience and rejoicing of celebrants then and now. Information about Juneteenth traditions--such as red velvet cake and red soda pop as symbols of bloodshed in the battle for freedom--will help young readers plan jubilees of their own.
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