Barracoon: Adapted for Young Readers

HarperCollins/Amistad. Jan. 2024. 208p. adapted by Ibram X. Kendi. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063098336.
Gr 3-7–“The most valuable things humans receive from the past generations are not money. They are stories.” Collected by Zora Neale Hurston in 1931, the tale of the “Last Black Cargo” wasn’t published for 87 years because Hurston refused to alter the dialect of the formerly enslaved Cudjo Lewis. The sole living Black man kidnapped from West Africa in 1859, Cudjo survived transport to the U.S. on the final slave ship, was forced to work, and was suddenly liberated in 1865 with no resources or means to return home. A significant introduction creates the context for Cudjo’s story and Hurston’s fieldwork as an anthropologist to gather it. Kendi honors the tale by preserving both Cudjo’s and Hurston’s voices. The visual art as well as the narrative are exceptional; astonishing black-and-white images created by fine artist Lee-Johnson demand attention and create pause. Cudjo’s lifelong yearning for his home and the tragic lives of his six children bring readers to his final parting with Hurston. The interviews and artistry here create of this narrative an emotional experience.
VERDICT This adaptation of Hurston’s beautiful, important work is a true gift. Highly recommended for all libraries.

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