Archive for November 7th, 2015


by Sam Juliano

Note:  This is the fourth review in the 2015 Caldecott Contender series that will be published at this site over the coming months, up until the January 11th scheduled awards date.  The books that will be examined are not necessarily ones that are bonafide contenders in the eyes of the voting committee, but rather the ones this writer feels should be.  The order they will be presented is arbitrary as some of my absolute favorites will be presented near the end.

Floyd Cooper, the resident neo-realist of children’s literature brings to bear his inimitable artistry to a defining event in African-American history.  Juneteenth for Mazie, was released a few months before the 150th anniversary of Freedom Day on June 19th, when soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to declare the end of the Civil War and an official acknowledgement of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  Currently, 43 states observe the day as one worthy of special attention, and just last year another book about this celebratory date – All Different Now was published by Angela Johnson in collaboration with E. B. Lewis.  Johnson’s book chronicles the cathartic effect the declaration has on a community of slaves, and how suddenly their lives were to be forever altered.  Cooper’s book is more intimate and soulful, focusing as it does on a single young girl who grew up learning that a proper upbringing often involved parental refusals, and how she is told the story of how her great-great-great Grandpa Mose witnessed a life-changing announcement from the balcony of a hotel.  Grandpa Mose she is informed worked hard in the cotton fields from dawn till dusk,  forced by their masters to toil until near exhaustion, with only a dream of freedom to push them forward.  They prayed for a time of equality for whites and blacks, while some escaped to the north where the laws allowed them a good measure of their yearnings.  After the monumental law was enacted by the President, there was as Cooper describes a celebration like no other in his statement from father to daughter in recollecting that awe-inspiring event: (more…)

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