A Flag for Juneteenth

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Jan. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823452248.
K-Gr 4–A colorful story about Huldah, a young enslaved girl who celebrates her 10th birthday and gains freedom on the same day: Juneteenth. Huldah, her family, and the other enslaved people at a Texas plantation are surprisingly notified of their freedom on June 19, 1865 by white soldiers. Shouts of joy, tears, and cheers soar across the plantation, and they immediately begin sewing freedom flags to commemorate the occasion. Huldah’s birthday is the beginning of a new life and the start of freedom, not just for herself, but for Black people in the South who had been enslaved. The illustrations quilted by Taylor display strong artistic use of color, texture, movement, stitching, and symbols. Each page has vibrant colors that grab readers at first glance. Throughout the book, Huldah’s black hair rests in different colored scarves, with an afro puff sitting on the back of her head. She and the people in the story are beautiful shades of brown, their deeply melanated faces free from facial features so readers may use their imaginations to visualize the characters’ expressions. Taylor effectively breathes life into the characters, even those muddled in the background, by showing their humanity in each page. The story brings Black culture to the forefront through illustrations of dark skin, freedom songs, and African symbolism and garb.
VERDICT A story of triumph and celebration, this book is appropriate for elementary school libraries. It would also be an asset in a classroom library or as part of an elementary school lesson on Juneteenth for kindergarten through fourth grade students.

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