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On Christmas night, Papa, a slave, leaves his family and the plantation to join the war. To comfort his children, Hope and Henry, he leaves behind a conch shell filled with the sound of freedom. Throughout the long years he is away, Mama holds the family together until word arrives of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. When the war ends, Papa returns safely, prompting the family to gather their belongings and journey to a new, free life. The author of Ellen's Broom and Tea Cakes for Tosh (both 2012) here concludes her picture-book series focusing on African American families and freedom. Tate's large-featured, expressive characters reflect the story's deep emotions and mesh nicely with the book's quiet tone. Published in part to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this makes a good introduction to the concepts of slavery and freedom and their effects on families.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal
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Gr 1-3-Hope's father flees the plantation where he works for the Master to fight against slavery. He leaves his daughter with a conch shell and tells her to hold it to her ear to hear the sound of freedom, which will come one day. Hope, her brother, and their mother miss Papa terribly. Seasons pass, holidays come and go, but still he has not returned. Life is difficult, particularly working in the cotton fields, and made worse by her worry about her father. One day, she looks up to see him with a troop of Union soldiers marching up the road. Not only is he home at last, but he also brings the promise that freedom is at hand. The author tells a story of sadness, separation, and love; a story of sacrifice and freedom. Readers cannot avoid the parallels between Papa's leaving to fight for freedom and the Master's leaving his young daughter to fight against the emancipation; the separation for each child is equally painful. Illustrations are drawn with simple lines and soft colors, using somewhat exaggerated head sizes, which emphasizes characters' emotions. The most effective scene shows plantation workers singing and praying for their freedom in the woods on New Year's Eve. Bare winter trees are silhouetted against the dark sky, with the gathered individuals shown in expressive poses as they worship. Hope is in the foreground, her arms open wide with anticipation. A general purchase for all collections.-Mary Hazelton, formerly at Warren & Waldoboro Elementary Schools, ME (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.