Day: May 3, 2017

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (9781599903194, Amazon)

This novel looks at a piece of history that many people don’t know about. Mariah and her brother Zeke have been freed from slavery in Georgia as part of Sherman’s march. As she starts to realize that she may not have to return to the brutality she has lived in all of her life, Mariah begins to see new options for both her future and that of her brother. She is given a ride in a wagon by a young man Caleb who was raised in freedom. The two slowly begin to form a relationship with one another, born on their shared hope for the future and it being spent together. Still, there are soldiers and generals on the march who do not appreciate that the freed people are taking supplies from the military scavenging. Dangers continue to surround all of them as they make their steady way towards freedom.

Bolden writes in a poetic prose in this novel. She shares both the hope of freedom and the evils of slavery in the book. The horrors of slavery are offered with a frankness that allows them to fully be realized, each person having experienced their own personal hell. She makes sure to keep the tension high with the Rebels raiding the camps, pressures from within the northern forces, and the dangers of the march itself.

The relationship of Mariah and Caleb matches the pace of the march, steady and filled with bumps and revelations as well. It is a lovely lengthy courtship, given the space to blossom in a natural way that feels like the reader is falling in love along with them. The long journey gives them that time, even as the foreshadowing and dangers allow the reader to know they are not safe at all.

An important book on a little-known episode during the Civil War, this book is intensely personal and a dangerous mix of romance and horror. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

I Like, I Don’t Like by Anna Baccelliere

I Like, I Don't Like by Anna Baccelliere

I Like, I Don’t Like by Anna Baccelliere, illustrated by Ale + Ale (9780802854803, Amazon)

This spare and focused children’s picture book tackles the issue of child labor in a way that children will immediately understand. Looking at one object at a time, a child first says how much they like it, then the child responsible for making or gathering that object states that they don’t like it. So one child likes shoes, another doesn’t like shoes. One child likes music, another who plays on the street doesn’t like music. One child likes phones, another doesn’t like phones as they take them apart. The book ends with a heart-wrenching combination where one child likes playing and the other asks “What is playing?”

The book never loses sight of its purpose, pairing wealthy children with those living in poverty and doing child labor is a way to make sure that the message resonates with children and that they learn about their privilege in the world. The book ends with information on poverty and child labor as well as information on the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and tips on how children can help.

The illustrations are stylised photographs that are painted and textured. They look straight into the faces of children from both sides of wealth and poverty, contrasting broad smiles with a deep weariness. Washes of similar colors further pair the contrasting dyads together into one image.

This is a very important picture book that is sure to inspire conversations and a desire to help. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans.