Simple yet deep. Informative yet entertaining. Unexpected yet enjoyed.
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie won a Caldecott Honor for this fantastic picture book.
I give Freedom in Congo Square 5 out of 5 stars. This picture book is fantastic. I love the simplicity, rhythm, rhyming, and the illustrations that take the book from great to a wow.
With the simple text, rhyming words, and the beautiful rhythm of the words this book is enjoyed by the young, such as 1st through 3rd grade. Though, the subject matter makes me say this book is powerful and incredibly useful in 5th through 8th grade classrooms, libraries, or homes where the kids are learning American history.
Kids aren't the only ones that will enjoy Freedom in Congo Square. I found the book not only entertaining, but from the book and the author's note at the end I learned about how New Orleans and Louisiana were unique in giving slaves a day off on Sunday and allowing them to not only meet together, play African drums. The meetings, dancing, and celebrations that went on on Sundays in Congo Square gave not only a sense of freedom, but was the beginning of Jazz. I learned a ton from this fabulous book.
Amazon has the following book review from School Library Journal:
"This vibrant picture book examines Congo Square in New Orleans. A foreword and author's note explain how, historically, slaves in Louisiana were allowed Sunday afternoons off. This custom continued after the territory joined the United States, although in time, New Orleans established one location for all slaves to gather: an area that became known as Congo Square. This unique practice helped enslaved and free Africans maintain cultural traditions. The impact was felt far beyond New Orleans as musicians, dancers, and singers developed, explored, and shared rhythms that eventually grew into jazz music. The text is realistic but child appropriate. Couplets count down the days to Sunday in a conversational tone ("Slavery was no ways fair./Six more days to Congo Square."). The writing is accompanied by folk art-style illustrations, with paint applied in thick layers. Some images, such as faces, are more detailed, while others are presented as silhouettes. Collage with painted elements is incorporated on occasion. The architecture portrayed evokes the New Orleans setting. Bright colors suggest the exuberance displayed at Congo Square. Spreads where the slaves are finally able to sing, dance, and express emotion contrast effectively with the forced restraint of those depicting the work week. VERDICT Unique in its subject and artistic expression, this beautiful book belongs in most collections."
Happy Beautiful Historical Caldecott Honor Picture Book reading!
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie
Rating: 5/5 stars
Best For: 10 - 14 year olds, 5th through 8th grade (high school too)
Worth a Check Out: Yes!
Buy It or Not: If you teach or love American history then definitely yes.
Read Aloud: A beautiful and powerful read aloud.
Lesson Ideas: American history, slavery. Life of a Louisiana slave in the earlier 1800s.