Author: Alice Faye Duncan
Release Date: January 11, 2022
The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation's creed of "freedom for all."
Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic--a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak's stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865--over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn't always see freedom in her Texas town. Then one Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn't freedom at all. She had to do something! Opal Lee spent the rest of her life speaking up for equality and unity. She became a teacher, a charity worker, and a community leader. At the age of 89, she walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C., in an effort to gain national recognition for Juneteenth.
Through the story of Opal Lee's determination and persistence, children ages 4 to 8 will learn:
Featuring the illustrations of New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo (I am Enough), Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free celebrates the life and legacy of a modern-day Black leader while sharing a message of hope, unity, joy, and strength.
Reviewer: Jane Mouttet
If you are looking for a new book to share during Black History Month, Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free deserves your consideration. Alice Faye Duncan provides a historically accurate account of Juneteenth and the woman who worked for it to become a national holiday. The book includes a biography of Opal Lee, a list of resources, and a timeline of black history in America.
Keturah A. Bobo did the illustrations for Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free. Her illustrations provide a lot of detail and help children visualize things they may never have experienced. Librarians who do Mock Caldecott units to have students vote on what the next Caldecott should be, may want to place Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free on their Mock Caldecott list for next year.
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free is appropriate for a K-12 Christian school library. I would place it in the holidays section. Librarians may want to note that while It does come from a Christian publisher, the book contains no mention of any belief in God.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Interviews & Reviews. This is my honest review.
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