Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem (Sojourner Kincaid Rolle)

Hello, friends! We’re here today with a special Sunday review! Our book today is Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem, written by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle and illustrated by Alex Bostic, a beautiful look at the meaning behind, and importance of, Juneteenth.

On June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, the news had finally arrived: the Civil War was over, and slavery had been declared illegal by the Emancipation Proclamation. And after 300 years of enslavement, “descendants of Africa picked up their souls – all that they owned” and began the process of remaking their lives. Some celebrated with song, some prayed. Some journeyed as far from Texas as they could, and some boldly made their homes as neighbors of the very people who had held them in bondage. And every year, on June 19th, their lives and journeys and celebrations and prayers are remembered by those who came after, so that their trials, triumphs, and the moment they first knew freedom, may never be forgotten.

Powerful. Rolle’s beautiful free verse poem and Bostic’s stunning oil paintings combine here to tell a story of a pivotal moment in American history that, until very recently, was unknown to so many, making a title as impeccably and passionately constructed as this one all the more vital (admittedly, I grew up never knowing of Juneteenth until my adulthood). Rolle’s poem is filled with beautiful phrasing and impactful moments of rhyme, yet maintains a tone and vocabulary that school-aged children will easily understand. Bostic’s artwork is similarly engaging, conveying intense emotion that young readers will recognize and empathize with. Combined with a perfect length for storytimes, this becomes a fantastic book for introducing Juneteenth and educating on its significance. JJ and I both really loved this, and I was especially blown away but what a powerful teaching tool this is. Overall, an absolute must-read, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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