Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Day to Remember: Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

"Mazie wants to play outside, but it's too dark. Mazie wants a cookie, but it's time for bed. Mazie wants to stay up late, but she's too little!

"I can't do anything I want!" grumps Mazie.

Dad takes her onto his lap.

"Tomorrow you can have a celebration!"

Mazie stops pouting as Dad begins to tell her about her great-great-great Grandfather Mose, who was a slave. Slaves never got to do what they want, Dad explains. They had to work all day, as late as their Master told them to keep working. They were not paid, and they couldn't go anywhere else. They were told when to go to sleep and when to get up. Some managed to run away to the North, but most were too afraid to try.

"They sweat, they bled, they cried, till those cries were quiet."

They waited until one day in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when a man read a proclamation from a balcony to the crowd below. Then there was nothing but cheers that lasted all night long. They were no longer slaves, the President had said. They were free. Free to leave their master's fields. Free to work for wages. Free to go anywhere they wanted.

A moment that changed their lives forever.

But things were not perfect. They marched for jobs, for schools and the right to vote.

And every Juneteenth they celebrated.

"And now it's your turn, sweet Mazie"

And Mazie celebrates with barbeque and games and a few speeches, too, in Floyd Cooper's Juneteenth for Mazie (Fiction Picture Books) (Capstone Books), a look at a piece of African American history and a story family lore for little Mazie, portrayed in the award-winning illustrations of Floyd Cooper.

Designed for readers in the lower grades, this book provides a family-centered retelling of the history of how the news of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation came to Texas and why June 19 is still celebrated across the country. Cooper's soft, but realistic illustrations gently show the long sadness of slavery and the changes that freedom brought in a family and community celebration for all Americans. Kirkus Reviews says, "[Cooper's] full-page artwork—oil paintings in softly textured yellows and browns captures the tender relationship between a father and daughter and the sadness and pride of their family story. Broad sweeps of history are encapsulated in double-page spreads focusing on determined, prayerful and happy faces. A quiet and informative picture of belated emancipation."

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