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Free at Last!


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About the Author

Doreen Rappaport is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the acclaimed No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance -- the first in what will be a trilogy of books illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Of Free at Last! Stories and Songs of Emancipation, she says, "This period in history was termed 'The New Era' by black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who hoped that the end of the Civil War marked the beginning of equality for black Americans. But this hope for equality quickly vanished with a series of 'legal' injustices, violence, and daily humiliations against black men, women, and children, marking this as one of the most shameful periods in American history. This book traces the courageous struggle of black Americans to re-create family life and economic independence in the face of overwhelming danger and uncertainty." Shane W. Evans is the illustrator of several children's books, including No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance by Doreen Rappaport. Of Free at Last!, he says, "As in No More!, I was faced with the challenge of making beautiful images out of images that are not always beautiful. There are dark moments in American history -- our story -- that need to be told, need to be known, and very importantly, need to be seen. It has been a welcome challenge and honor to tell these stories in pictures."


The creators of No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance here chronicle the African-American experience from the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 to the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing school segregation. Rappaport labels this era "one of the most shameful periods in American history" and proceeds to demonstrate the ways in which the promise of Emancipation failed to deliver. The author includes among reports of widespread discrimination, vigilante campaigns (such as Ku Klux Klan members' "night rides"), and legislation that was intended to protect blacks but frequently failed to do so, as well as the occasional bright spots in the arduous struggle for equality. Curiously, given the emotional intensity of the many tragic events of the period, the historical account seems at times dry or vague (e.g., "After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, hundreds of thousands of white men were hired to build weapons for our allies. Black leaders insisted that some of these jobs go to their people. Nothing was done"). Because of the episodic presentation, the ideas are not as integrated as in Harlem Stomp! (reviewed below). The volume is most involving when utilizing primary sources, such as poetry, songs and brief anecdotal stories about such influential individuals as Ida B. Wells, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall. Evans, on the other hand, creates a strong visual counterpart, with portraits of famous individuals every bit as strong as dramatic scenes-from a haunting image of a lynching (only the victim's feet show) and joyful paintings of theater and dance. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Gr 3-7-In this companion to No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance (Candlewick, 2002), stories, poems, and songs about events from the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 through the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 are perfectly matched with vibrant oil paintings. The result is a glorious tribute to the lives of African-American heroes and heroines. Familiar figures, such as Booker T. Washington and Jackie Robinson, are mentioned, along with unsung individuals, such as John Solomon Lewis and Harriet Postle. Rappaport offers tidbits of information, such as the history surrounding "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the Negro National Anthem, and even tosses in a little of the oral tradition with the legend of John Henry. These selections have a magnetic impact, encouraging readers to dig deeper to discover more about the rich heritage of African Americans. Evans successfully interprets each subject with his rich, thought-provoking paintings that leap from the pages. A well-researched, handsome title.-Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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