Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

Published by Tommy Nelson

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of  Juneteenth: Duncan, Alice Faye, Bobo, Keturah A.: 9781400231256: Amazon.com:  Books
Amazon.com: Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the  Grandmother of Juneteenth eBook : Duncan, Alice Faye, Bobo, Keturah A.:  Kindle Store

Summary:  When Opal Lee’s great grandson asks her for a story, she looks around their Juneteenth celebration and tells the kids the history of the holiday. People in Texas didn’t learn about the end of slavery until almost a year and a half after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Juneteenth marks the day they found out, and the celebration that happened when they did.  “What was Juneteenth like when you were a kid?” the children then want to know. Opal Lee tells them of her segregated childhood, and how her family’s new house was burned down in 1939. But, she assures them, she has continued and will continue to work for freedom as long as she needs them.  As the children run off to play, she reminds them, “Freedom is for everyone.  Juneteenth is YOU and ME.”  Includes a recipe for Juneteenth Red Punch, a Juneteenth timeline, additional information about Opal Lee and Juneteenth, and a list of sources.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  With Juneteenth being a new national holiday, librarians and teachers will be looking for excellent educational resources like this one.  Opal Lee’s easygoing storytelling imparts a lot of information, aided by the bright, colorful illustrations that portray a diverse crowd of kids at the Juneteenth celebration.

Cons:  The author’s note mentions Opal Lee’s walk across the United States from 2016 to 2020 to collect signatures for a petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday.  She was 94 when President Biden signed legislation to make this happen.  I wish there had been more information about that walk, which sounds like a fascinating piece of history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s