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All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom


Author: Angela Johnson

Illustrator: E.B. Lewis

Genre/Format: Historical Fiction Picture Book

Target Ages: 5-9

Prime Audiences: African American Descendants of Slaves and Former Slaves and All Americans Who Value Freedom

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Year: 2014


On the morning of June 19, 1865, a slave girl wakes to the smell of honeysuckle, sweet but not enough against the bitter reality of slavery.  And on the morning of June 20, the honeysuckle will once again come to wake her and her family, but all will be different because of the proclamation that has finally reached the slaves of Texas— You are free.


"To be given freedom for the first time in your life-- wouldn't that be truly awesome, but also somehow surreal and dreamlike?"  These words of E.B. Lewis from his Illustrator's Note of the picture book All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, capture the tone of Angela Johnson's story of a group of slaves in Texas experiencing their first day of freedom on June 19, 1865, now known and celebrated as Juneteenth.  Lewis's watercolor scenes of a first day of freedom match the thoughtful and straightforward words of Johnson through her fictional narrator, nameless yet symbolic of all those real souls who suffered enslaved, whose sufferings are not forgotten though their names may be unknown to us today.  Lewis also writes "I illustrated not just jubilation and celebrations, but expressions of repose, disconnect, surprise, and contemplation."  And this is a book of all those things, a book that speaks quietly, yet clearly to all who enjoy freedom today, a book that speaks in solemn remembrance of those whose precious dream of freedom finally became a reality.  



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