Review: All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
Once again I’ve come across a picture book that proves to be both informative as well as enjoyable. I’d heard of Juneteenth but never understand the historical significance of the celebration. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis does a beautiful job of telling the story of an important part of American history.
In the author’s notes, Angela Johnson imagines how her great-grandparents must have felt when told they were now free. Her story tells of the day on which slaves in Galveston TX were told of the Emancipation Proclamation. Her poetic text is told from the perspective of a young slave girl waking up on a day like any other. That day changes almost unimaginably as her community join together to process and celebrate their freedom. Stunning watercolor illustrations by E.B. Lewis add another dimension to the story. His images capture the hot sun of a Texas cotton field, as well expressions of joy and hope that accompany the good news.
This book would work well read aloud as part of a civil war or civil rights unit. Added context in the back of the book includes author and illustrator’s notes as well as a timeline and glossary. I know this June 19th, I will have a better understanding of the Juneteenth celebration. Although I’ll never truly understand what it must have felt like to experience freedom for the first time, this book does a beautiful job of raising my awareness.