Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth

Thomas Nelson. Jan. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781400231256.
K-Gr 2–From the award-winning author of Memphis, Martin, and The Mountain Top comes a biography of Opal Lee. The book opens to a Juneteenth celebration with music, food, and community, where Great-Grand Dear, Opal Lee, tells stories to the young people about the history of Juneteenth. “Freedom, hope, and JOY DIVINE! Juneteenth means it’s FREEDOM TIME!” Through illustrative and truthful text, Duncan rings the celebration of Juneteenth, relating stories of the Emancipation Proclamation, the freeing of enslaved people in Texas, and Lee’s experience with Jim Crow, racial violence, and activism. The narrative is fast-paced, with great emphasis on freedom and community. Bobo (Grace Byers’s I Am Enough) dedicates her detail to the faces and people of this picture book. Bobo varies format from page to page to match the storytelling nature of the text, that includes adult Lee looking back on her memories. Full bleed illustrations bring readers back to the present Juneteenth celebration. The back matter includes a recipe for Juneteenth “Red Punch” strawberry lemonade, a Juneteenth time line, a brief biography of Opal Lee, and research sources.
VERDICT A good choice for public and school libraries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing