Mazie is a little girl who is always getting told “no” by her parents, which makes her grumpy. Her father tries to make her feel better by promising that the next day, she can be part of a celebration. He explains to her they will be commemorating Juneteenth Day, and tells her that this is the day the slaves in Texas got word of their freedom. They never forgot that wonderful day.
He then adds that in spite of the emancipation of slaves, things weren’t perfect, and blacks still had to protest and march in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with whites. But blacks worked hard, excelled, and accomplished much (here he shows Barak Obama taking the oath of office). And now, he says to Mazie, you will be able to participate in the remembrance.
Discussion: This book differs from the other book on Juneteenth Day reviewed earlier this month in that it explains the significance of this date in the course of the text, rather than just in end notes. But I think the storyline paints the history of blacks in America with a too-rosy brush. Given the current tension in the country over race relations, it seems a bit quixotic.
Evaluation: In spite of my slight discomfort with the way black history is presented by this story, I would still share this book with kids. I love Floyd Cooper – his illustrations are magical. I especially love the central role of a dad instead of the usual ubiquitous picture book mom. But I think if I were reading this to kids I would add some “annotations” to the text….
Published by Capstone Young Readers, 2015