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A Day for Rememberin'
Cover of A Day for Rememberin'
A Day for Rememberin'
Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day
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A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper Today is a special day. Eli knows it's important if he's allowed...
A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper Today is a special day. Eli knows it's important if he's allowed...
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  • A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper
    Today is a special day. Eli knows it's important if he's allowed to miss one second of school, his "hard-earned right."
    Inspired by true events and told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the deeply moving story about what is regarded as the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. Eli dresses up in his best clothes, Mama gathers the mayflowers, Papa straightens his hat, and together they join the crowds filling the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with bouquets, crosses, and wreaths. Abolitionists, missionaries, teachers, military officers, and a sea of faces Black, Brown, and White, they march as one and sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.
    With poignant prose and celebratory, powerful illustrations, A Day for Rememberin' shines light on the little-known history of this important holiday and reminds us never to forget the people who put their lives on the line for their country. The book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper and includes archival photos in the back matter, as well as an author's note, bibliography, timeline, and index.

About the Author-

  • Leah Henderson writes for young readers of all ages, and her books have been named a Children's Africana Book Awards Notable and a Bank Street Best Book. Leah holds an MFA in writing and is on the faculty of Spalding University's graduate writing program. She resides in Washington, D.C. 

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 29, 2021
    Transfixed by a photograph of an early assembly for Decoration Day—now observed as Memorial Day—Henderson (Together We March) was led to records of a similar ceremony held in Charleston, S.C., in April 1865. She imagines the event through the story of Eli, the 10-year-old son of a formerly enslaved man, newly freed. After Confederate surrender and subsequent emancipation, Eli’s father works on a project at the racecourse, which once housed Union prisoners, many of whom died of exposure, disease, and starvation. But school comes first for Eli, according to his mother (“Masters locked away learning ’cause knowledge is its own freedom”). At last, the project is revealed: a cemetery “for the soldiers who lost their lives for our freedom.” Oil erasure images by Coretta Scott King Award winner Cooper (Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History) portray Eli, his family, and their town in images whose power and presence invites lingering views. Henderson commemorates the way Eli’s Black community remembers a painful piece of history—while honoring the people who experienced it. Back matter includes an author’s note, information on the roots of Decoration Day, a timeline, and references. Ages 6–9. (May)

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2021
    A community of former slaves honors the fallen heroes who made them free. It's 1865, and White people are "mad 'cause we aren't enslaved no more" (a fantastic burn!). Eli wants to follow his father to his work, but his parents are adamant that he take advantage of the education he is now entitled to and go to school. But finally, one day is so special that he gets to follow his father to work. The adult men are digging and building at the old Charleston racecourse, used as a prison for Union soldiers during the war, while Eli and the other children paint a picket fence. Finally, there's a parade that culminates in sermons, songs, and laying flowers at the graves of Union soldiers buried at the former track, both Black and White. It's Decoration Day, which will later become today's Memorial Day. Cooper's illustrations are soft and gentle, his muted color palette with many yellows, browns, and tans working well to convey the dusty workplace and the toil it takes to build a memorial site. His customary technique lends a gauzy haze to the proceedings. Henderson's choice to show the development of this day of remembrance from the perspective of a child involved in the literal work required to build it gives the story weight and meaning. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 68% of actual size.) A treasure. (author's note, timeline, notes) (Picture book. 6-10)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 15, 2021
    Grades K-3 The origins of Memorial Day have roots in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Henderson's historical picture book convincingly posits that the first such holiday was held on May 1, 1865, at the Washington Race Course in Charleston, South Carolina, where Union soldiers were buried when the racetrack operated as a Confederate prison camp. Remembering the soldiers and fixing up the grave sites went hand in hand, and this effort was led by formerly enslaved people, including schoolchildren, as well as abolitionists. The moving story, as seen through the eyes of a newly freed boy watching his father and others work hard in anticipation of memorial festivities, is enhanced beautifully by Cooper's illustrations, which convey determination as the men and boy work hard. On Memorial Day itself, faces full of pride are shown singing, praying, and celebrating in honor of those who lost their lives. The palette of sun gold, sky blue, dusty browns, and greens gives the pages a rooted, old-fashioned feel. A perfect book for enhancing collections celebrating national holidays and for adding to those honoring emancipation.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 28, 2021

    Gr 2-5-Henderson's latest tells the story of the first Memorial Day celebration from the perspective of a young African American boy whose family has recently been freed following the Civil War. The boy longs to go with his father to help him refurbish a racecourse that was made into a prison for Union soldiers during the war. Finally, he is allowed to assist in painting the fence while the adults establish a graveyard for the fallen soldiers. Once the memorial is complete, the entire African American community in Charleston marches from their homes to the cemetery in a parade. Though the event is sad, it is also a celebration of the end of slavery. Cooper's mixed-media illustrations beautifully depict the community's emotions and their actions in creating a memorial. Soft colors gently envelop readers in the story. Back matter includes an author's note, the roots of Decoration Day, a time line of the Civil War and Memorial Day, and a bibliography. VERDICT An enchanting account of the first Memorial Day, this book is recommended for all collections.-Sara Thomas, New Castle P.L., DE

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Day for Rememberin'
A Day for Rememberin'
Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day
Leah Henderson
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Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day
Leah Henderson
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