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Day of Tears Paperback – March 20, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9–Julius Lester's moving historical novel (Jump at the Sun, 2005) becomes a magnificent tapestry when performed in this full-cast recording. Based upon actual historical characters Pierce Butler and his ex-wife Fanny Kemble, the story begins during The Weeping Time, the largest slave auction that was held in Georgia in 1859. In a rain as hard as regret, that infamous event saw hundreds of families, marriages, and lovers torn apart as slave owner and plantation master Pierce Butler sold hundreds of slaves to pay off his gambling debts. This ain't rain. This is God's tears one slave intones as the auction begins. Lester's lyrical dialogue performed by different voices creates a powerful statement on the blinding injustice and cruelty of slavery. Narrator Dion Graham exudes a quiet intensity as slaves, owners, abolitionists, and children of slave and slave-master families tell their stories. Listeners will absorb the aching reality of slave life and get a sense of the monumental injustice of many lives sacrificed to support a way of life for a privileged few. Lester's literary device of using interludes in which characters reflect on their lives since the auction adds dimension and substance to this outstanding production. Children may be jarred by the frequent use of the word nigger. Used in this historical context, the language helps to illustrate how people perceived African Americans. For older listeners, sections of the novel could be used for reader's theater.–Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library, Fremont, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. From his first book, To Be a Slave (1968), Lester has told the history of slavery through personal accounts that relay the dehumanizing message of the perpetrators. Here he draws on historical sources to fictionalize a real event: the biggest slave auction in American history, which took place in Savannah, Georgia, in 1859. He imagines the individual voices of many who were there, adults and kids, including several slaves up for sale, the auctioneer, and the white masters and their families buying and selling the valuable merchandise. The huge cast speaks in the present tense and sometimes from the future looking back. A note fills in the facts. The horror of the auction and its aftermath is unforgettable; individuals whom the reader has come to know are handled like animals, wrenched from family, friends, and love. Then there's a sales list with names, ages, and the amount taken in for each person. Brave runaways speak; so does an abolitionist who helps them. Those who are not heroic are here, too, and the racism is virulent (there's widespread use of the n-word). The personal voices make this a stirring text for group discussion. Older readers may want to go on from here to the nonfiction narratives in Growing Up in Slavery (see adjacent review). Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.