Children are stronger than we think! This is a story of a young girl who does everything it takes to find the family she's been separated from after the Civil War, and it is beautiful in every way. How Shana Keller was able to fit so much beauty onto so few pages is beyond my comprehension.
A moving and triumphant picture book inspired by the printed newspaper ads placed by African Americans who were separated from family members by the Civil War, enslavement, and emancipation.
After the war’s end, everyone is missing someone. Lettie’s missing her family. They had been sold and lost long before enslavement was abolished. Every week, she reads the advertisements in the newspapers to her congregation. “Do you know them? I would like to find my people. My mother’s name was Charlotte King, and when I was sold, I had five brothers.”
Lettie is determined to find her loved ones, too. She saves every penny she earns, but not to buy candy or toys. She saves for something better—something that could bring her whole family together.
Every ad depicted in this poignant tale is authentically historical, bringing the heart-wrenching past to life.
About the Author
Shana Keller began her studies of African American history at the University of Miami in Florida, and she’s been delving deeper and deeper into our diverse past ever since. She is the author of Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story (an Irma S. Black Honor Award winner). She writes lost-and-found tales of courage and commitment from her home in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Visit her at ShanaKeller.com.
Laura Freeman has illustrated many fine children’s books over the years, including Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe, written by Deborah Blumenthal, and the Coretta Scott King Honor book Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly and Winifred Conkling. Laura lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and their two children. Find out more about Laura at LFreemanArt.com.
* "Keller tells the story in a straightforward way, letting the poignant ads speak for themselves. Using beautiful patterns and rich, warm colors, often against white backgrounds, Freeman creates sympathetic fictional characters while expressing their emotions through their body language and their facial expressions. A simply written, moving picture book." — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Keller’s poignant portrayal of Lettie’s plight becomes a means for comprehending the widespread suffering, loss, and grief post-war and amid all the transitions that followed. Freeman’s moving digital art, rendered in a subdued palette of browns, dark greens, and reds, helps set the story in the past and serves as a perfect contrast to the rainbow of brighter colors that appear as the sun lighting up a church’s stained glass windows during a moment of hope. Educators and parents will appreciate the instructional layers of this work of historical fiction, which centers the roles of hard work, sacrifice, literacy, and community in the tasks of finding family after the historical and intergenerational traumas of American slavery." — School Library Journal
* "This richly inspiring and informative picture book illuminates an oft-overlooked—but incredibly important—chapter of U.S. history. In the backmatter, Keller notes that while Lettie’s story is fictional, the advertisements are all real; they’re artfully incorporated into the narrative. Freeman’s use of texture and color gives the story a vivid, almost three-dimensional feel.