J Is for Juneteenth

Planting People Growing Justice. Apr. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781959223412.
PreS-Gr 2–This brightly illustrated picture book is written in the style of an acrostic using each letter of the word Juneteenth to describe an aspect of the holiday. Each spread features one letter of the word and what it stands for on the left, with a further description on the right: “T is for Tell/ Union soldiers were sent to tell the slaves that the promise of freedom had arrived and they rejoiced.” The large font and simple, colorful illustrations will appeal to children learning to read. The cover shows five people with various skin tones holding a large green banner with the title written in big yellow letters, while fireworks go off in the background. This book was written by elementary school students and the writing is concise: “U is for the Union Army/ The Union Army spread the word about independence throughout Texas,” but the next line is erroneous and grammatically clunky: “N is for Nineteenth/ Slaves did not find out about their freedom until two years after the Civil War ended on June 19, 1865.” This makes it sound as if the first Juneteenth was two years after the Civil War ended, or as if the Civil War ended on Juneteenth. Rather, June 19, 1865, is two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, or two months after the South’s surrender on April 9, 1865.
VERDICT Succinct text and eye-catching illustrations are offset by an error in content. An additional purchase.

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