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Freedom in Congo Square
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About the Author

Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning nonfiction children's book author. Her books have received numerous accolades, including a Caldecott Honor for Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom and a Coretta Scott King Award Honor for Becoming Billie Holiday, as well as the NAACP's Image Award. She is currently a professor and Director of Professional Writing at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. You can find more about Carole at cbweatherford.com. R. Gregory Christie is a three-time recipient of a Coretta Scott King Award Honor for illustration (Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan; Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth; The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children), a two-time winner of the New York Times' 1 Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year (in 2 for Only Passing Through and in 22 for Stars in the Darkness), a honor winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for illustration (Jazz Baby), and a recipient of the NAACP's Image Award. He operates GAS-ART GIFTS, a children's bookstore with autographed copies in Decatur, Georgia. You can find more about Greg online at gas-art.com.

Reviews

There's a public space in New Orleans called Congo Square where people have been meeting on Sundays to make music, sing and dance ever since the mid-1800s, the time of slavery. Freedom in Congo Square is a graceful, gorgeous picture book that honors this Louisiana gathering spot, now on the National Register of Historic Places. Caldecott Honor author Carole Boston Weatherford (Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom) calls this landmark "freedom's heart." As her author's note states, "Congo Square is now part of Louis Armstrong Park, which is named after the jazz great and New Orleans native. That is fitting since jazz... evolved from the African rhythms kept alive in Congo Square." A glossary and a dense but accessible two-page foreword further contextualize the book, which on its own is a rhythmic countdown of hardworking slaves looking forward to a celebratory Sunday off in Congo Square. The chanting rhyme begins: "Mondays, there were hogs to slop, / mules to train, and logs to chop./ Slavery was no ways fair./ Six more days to Congo Square./ Tuesdays, there were cows to feed, / fields to plow, and rows to seed./ A moment without work was rare./ Five more days to Congo Square." In his bold, folk-art style, Caldecott Honor artist R. Gregory Christie (The Palm of My Heart; Brothers in Hope) paints slaves toiling in surreal fieldscapes in lush persimmons and yellow-golds, plowing, hanging clothes, picking cotton--then expressively dancing, swirling and playing music on their much-anticipated Sundays. This is a powerful testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and a fine conversation starter.--Karin Snelson, Children's & YA editor "Shelf Awareness "

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