Review of A Flag for Juneteenth

A Flag for Juneteenth A Flag for Juneteenth
by Kim Taylor; illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
1/23    9780823452248    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455218    $11.99

Huldah, a young Black girl in Texas, just so happens to be celebrating her tenth birthday on June 19, 1865. Expecting to wake up to songs from her family, she is instead awakened by soldiers on horseback riding through the plantation. Those soldiers arrive with a gift of their own: a proclamation that all enslaved people have been freed. The women immediately begin to sew freedom flags as the elders call for a jubilee. The children gather branches to use as flagpoles, onto which the men carve intricate symbols and signs. It’s quite some time before Huldah remembers that it is also her special day. To commemorate it, she takes a reflective walk into the woods and “captures a sunbeam.” When she returns, she finds that the community has remembered her birthday, and she is presented with a flag of her very own. Huldah’s family ends the day by rejoicing in their new liberation under the stars. Both lyrical and descriptive, Huldah’s voice conveys the joy that is found in freedom. Adding to the warm brilliance of the story are Taylor’s illustrations of expertly hand-sewn and quilted art pieces. With every page depicting the contributions of the newly liberated community, the scenes and stylized bodies exhibit a time-honored art. A great introduction to the federal holiday. An author’s note tells more about the genesis of the book and about the art of flag making, or vexillography.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eboni Njoku
Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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