Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty
by Tonya Bolden
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
Middle Grade Nonfiction (History)
Grades 3 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Published on the anniversary of when President Abraham Lincoln's order went into effect, this book offers readers a unique look at the events that led to the Emancipation Proclamation. Filled with little-known facts and fascinating details, it includes excerpts from historical sources, archival images, and new research that debunks myths about the Emancipation Proclamation and its causes. Complete with a timeline, glossary, and bibliography, "Emancipation Proclamation" is an engrossing new historical resource from award-winning children's book author Tonya Bolden.
This book is a beautiful example of the amazing things being done with books for children. Everything about the book from the design to the writing is intended to help children decipher a difficult topic. Slavery is not an easy topic to discuss, nor is the war that came about because of it. But this book does a great job of showing how and why freedom came to the slaves.
I found it fascinating the way the author referred to slaves as "we." It brings a feel of unity, common suffering among African Americans both slave and free. I loved how she used quotes from prominent people of the time, both white and black. I also liked how these quotes showed a variety of opinions, those who supported Lincoln and those who didn't, those who wanted slavery ended regardless of the fate of the union and those who put the union first. The book is wonderfully written and perfect for sharing, especially in a classroom setting. There is much here worthy of discussion. I also appreciated the inclusion of the actual document (Emancipation Proclamation) and the author's taking the time to explain things as she went, helping the reader but not talking down to them. The author's epilogue explains her own feelings about the controversy that still surrounds slavery and the issue of who really freed the slaves. This is a nice touch in that it illustrates that history like so many other things varies depending on the beholder.
The design of the book is fabulous. The outside and inside of the book are made to look old, like an ink-splattered document from the past. Many illustrations were of primary source documents from the 1860s, everything from auction posters to political cartoons, photographs, paintings, as well as speeches and letters. The captions were well-written and clearly explained each illustration. A beautifully put together book that I highly recommend.
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