2013 Winter/Spring Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)


"The author of Ellen's Broom and Tea Cakes for Tosh (both 2012) here concludes her picture-book series focusing on African American families and freedom. Tate’s large-featured, expressive characters reflect the story’s deep emotions and mesh nicely with the book’s quiet tone. Published in part to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this makes a good introduction to the concepts of slavery and freedom and their effects on families."

-- Kay Weisman


"Lyons gives Hope a strong and very sympathetic voice, while Tate uses colored pencils and gouache in a folk-art style to imbue the characters with dignity . . . A warm story about the love of a family and the jubilation of freedom; it commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation."


" . . . The author tells a story of sadness, separation, and love; a story of sacrifice and freedom. Readers cannot avoid the parallels between Papa’s leaving to fight for freedom and the Master’s leaving his young daughter to fight against the emancipation; the separation for each child is equally painful. Illustrations are drawn with simple lines and soft colors, using somewhat exaggerated head sizes, which emphasizes characters’ emotions. The most effective scene shows plantation workers singing and praying for their freedom in the woods on New Year’s Eve. Bare winter trees are silhouetted against the dark sky, with the gathered individuals shown in expressive poses as they worship. Hope is in the foreground, her arms open wide with anticipation. A general purchase for all collections."

–Mary Hazelton


"On Christmas night, Hope’s father says goodbye to her and her brother as he runs away to join the Union army. Hope and her family are slaves on a Southern plantation. This tale of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation might be one of a very few picture books that attempt to address this complex topic. Lyons’ prose is poetic and touching; as a character, Hope wears her emotions openly and her ability to empathize with the master’s daughter is moving. Colored pencil and gouache drawings are simple but genuine . . . "

-- Samantha Roslund