Freedom in Congo Square

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Bonnier/Little Bee (S&S, dist.), $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0103-3
Located in what is now the Treme neighborhood, Congo Square was the one place where the slaves and free blacks of New Orleans were allowed to gather on Sundays, a legally mandated day of rest. There they could reconnect with the dance and music of their West and Central African heritages and feel, at least for a few hours, that they were in “a world apart,” where “freedom’s heart” prevailed. Weatherford hits a few flat notes with her rhyming (“Slaves had off one afternoon,/ when the law allowed them to commune”), but she succeeds in evoking a world where prospect of Sunday becomes a way to withstand relentless toil and oppression: “Wednesday, there were beds to make/ silver to shine, and bread to bake./ The dreaded lash, too much to bear./ Four more days to Congo Square.” Christie, who worked with Weatherford to illuminate another historic neighborhood in Sugar Hill (2014), takes readers on a visual journey, moving from searing naïf scenes of plantation life to exuberantly expressionistic and abstract images filled with joyous, soaring curvilinear figures. An introduction and afterword provide further historic detail. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/05/2015
Release date: 01/05/2016
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 40 pages - 978-1-4998-0479-9
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