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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Juneteenth for Mazie

In my work with preservice teachers, one item of note we discuss is how important it is to find children's books that represent children who are not the majority culture. I was so excited to pick up Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper at Book Expo America this year, and to present it to my students as a way to diversify their bookshelves.

Mazie is sad one summer night, because she always wants to go out and play but has to go to bed instead. Her grandfather comforts her by telling her the next night, they will celebrate. It is Juneteenth, which is the day that celebrates the emancipation of slaves. They will eat and dance, and they will celebrate the most glorious day that allowed her great-great-great grandpa Mose had the opportunity to be realized as the citizen of this country he was. 

I absolutely adored this book. It was the perfect length for a child, and the description of what Juneteenth celebrates was exactly on level. The story moves through many decades of the struggle for equality, and the representation of the annual celebration makes for a very happy book. I also want to rave about the illustrations. They are gorgeous. The story can tell itself strictly through the pictures in this book, and I was floored when I read this. Honestly, I don't want anyone else to read my copy because I desperately want to keep it pristine and untouched on my bookshelf. 

The most moving picture to me was when they reached the back of a man's head taking the oath of office for what is clearly the President of the United States. It's a stunning picture in it's simplicity, and the American flag in the background with the man's right hand raised is a moving reminder that, no matter how short we have fallen in our efforts to be of equal standing, we have still made strides as a nation.

The joy that radiates throughout this book, and it's clear and straightforward yet simple story is really just perfect. I'm in love with this book, and you will be, too.

For purchase below.

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