School Library Journal, March 24, 2023
Jayylen’s Juneteenth Surprise.
Lavette,Lavaille. illus. by David Wilkerson. 24p. (Little Golden Book). Golden Bks. May 2023. Tr $5.99. ISBN 9780593568149.
PreS-Gr 2–This Little Golden Book explains why African Americans celebrate Juneteenth. After Jayylen and his family move “back home from the big city,” Jayylen’s grandfather, Paw Paw Jimmy, decides it is time to teach his grandson about their family traditions by arranging a Juneteenth celebration with two-steppin’ and music. Jayylen does not understand what Juneteenth is, so his mother and grandfather explain: “That was the day when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free.” The subject of slavery is explained to Jayylen in matter-of-fact terms that are appropriate for his young age; his mother tells Jayylen that enslaved people “are forced to work without pay” and that “many African people were taken from their countries. A lot of them were brought to America, where they were forced to do hard work and treated very poorly.” A fun cultural aspect is infused into the story when Jayylen’s grandfather explains the musical style zydeco and teaches Jayylen to play the frottoir. Illustrations are simple, but effective, and include enjoyable details such as the Elijah McCoy poster that hangs on Jayylen’s bedroom wall, and the shrimp and grits that the family eats for dinner. VERDICT For parents who want to introduce the meaning behind their Juneteenth celebrations; libraries with collections of Little Golden Books should include this one to broaden their selection.–Peggy Henderson Murphy