Cover image for Come Juneteenth
Come Juneteenth
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Orlando : Harcourt, c2007.
Physical Description:
246 p. ; 22 cm.
Fourteen-year-old Luli and her family face tragedy after failing to tell their slaves that President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made them free.


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Sis Goose is a beloved member of Luli's family, despite the fact that she was born a slave. But the family is harboring a terrible secret. And when Union soldiers arrive on their Texas plantation to announce that slaves have been declared free for nearly two years, Sis Goose is horrified to learn that the people she called family have lied to her for so long. She runs away--but her newly found freedom has tragic consequences. How could the state of Texas keep the news of the Emancipation Proclamation from reaching slaves? In this riveting Great Episodes historical drama, Ann Rinaldi sheds light on the events that led to the creation of Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom that continues today. Includes an author's note. AUTHOR Ann Rinaldi is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. A self-made writer and newspaper columnist for twenty-one years, Ms. Rinaldi attributes her interest in history to her son, who enlisted her to take part in historical reenactments up and down the East Coast *

Author Notes

Young adult author Ann Rinaldi was born in New York City on August 27, 1934. After high school, she became a secretary in the business world. She got married in 1960 and stopped working, but after having two children she decided to try writing. In 1969, she wrote a weekly column in the Somerset Messenger Gazette and in 1970 she wrote two columns a week for the Trentonian, which eventually led to her writing features and soft new stories. She published her first novel Term Paper in 1979, but was ultimately drawn to writing historical fiction when her son became involved in reenactments while he was in high school. Her first historical fiction novel was Time Enough for Drums. She also writes for the Dear America series. She currently lives in Somerville, New Jersey with her husband.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-The author's talent for bringing history to life is vividly showcased in this novel. When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Texas slave owners, fearing an uprising, kept the fact a secret. They were finally forced to reveal the truth two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, which came to be known as Juneteenth and is celebrated to this day. In this story, 14-year-old Luli has grown up with Sis Goose, a young mulatto girl, technically a slave but raised as part of the family. Luli's father is an invalid and her mother is busy running the plantation, so her older brother, Gabriel, has assumed responsibility for her, teaching her to ride and shoot like a boy, and instilling in her a fierce independence. Although Sis Goose is like a sister to Luli, and Gabriel is in love with her, the family does not tell Sis Goose of her freedom, which results in a devastating tragedy. Luli's authentic voice demonstrates Rinaldi's ability to evoke the human side of history, and the novel's evenhanded approach portrays the moral ambiguities of the time fairly and honestly. Believable characters with human strengths and weaknesses, lively writing, and plenty of action and suspense make this book a real page-turner for lovers of historical fiction.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

For two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Luli and her plantation-owning family hide the truth: that Sis Goose, born a slave, is now free. Rinaldi's well-researched portrait of post-Civil War Texas sometimes drags and the narrative jumps in time, but the complex relationship between Luli and her brother Gabe (who is also Sis's lover) stands out. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Technically owned by the Holcomb family's Aunt Sophia, the illegitimate "high yellow" Sis Goose (named for a Brer Rabbit-type story) has lived her entire life as an adopted and favorite member of the wealthy Texas family. Afraid of a slave uprising and the loss of their work force, the Holcombs and neighboring landowners keep news of the Emancipation Proclamation a secret, even from Sis Goose. When the Union Army arrives at the end of the Civil War to occupy the Holcomb plantation and announce the end of slavery, the betrayal of Sis Goose and her own secret (that she is carrying her "brother's" baby) spark tragedy. While Rinaldi raises interesting questions about the nature of bondage and freedom, her story glosses over the origins of Juneteenth and subsequent celebrations, focusing instead on the Holcombs' highly implausible situations. The cover is even misleading, not aptly depicting a light-skinned Sis Goose. Stick to the McKissacks' nonfiction Days of Jubilee (2003) and wait for a more accurate novel on the subject. (Historical fiction. 11-15) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Two years after Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, Texas slaves finally learned that they were free. Rinaldi personalizes the shocking Reconstruction history in this gripping novel that focuses on two young Texas women. Thirteen-year-old Luli and slightly older Sis Goose have been raised as sisters by Luli's parents on their Texas plantation. Sis Goose, the daughter of a white steamship captain and a black slave, is technically a slave herself, and when word of emancipation begins to circulate, Luli's family (including older brother Gabe, who has begun an affair with Sis Goose) tell their adopted daughter that the rumors are false. The repercussions of that lie lead to increasingly catastrophic events after the Yankees march in. Writing in Luli's naive, biased voice, Rinaldi focuses sympathetically on the dilemmas of her white characters, and their viewpoints about freedom and bondage will surely challenge contemporary readers. The moral questions are right at the surface, along with the troubling historical facts; readers will want to discuss it all. Suggest Mildred Taylor's The Land (2001) to follow this. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2007 Booklist



Chapter OneI was in the pumpkin patch, counting the ones that were good enough for Old Pepper Apron, our cook, to make into bread. I recollect that Pa was happy that hed gotten one or two cents more on the pound from the cotton Granville had shipped out of Bagdad. And that the fields were being sown with winter oats and rye. I looked up and saw Sis Goose standing by the gate, a frown on her lovely face. It was all like some Dutch still life I was learning about from my tutor. Sis twisted her apron in her hands. She always wore a snow-white apron, like I did, even though we had no real household chores. Luli, theres an old negro man in our barn, she said. For a moment I did not understand. The place was full of negro men: field hands, household help. But the look on her face told me something was amiss. Who is he? Says he comes from Virginny. Says . . . and her voice broke. Says what? Says the negroes are free. That Abraham Lincoln freed them in January of 63. That rumor again. But with the war there was a different rumor every week. I swallowed. Something on Sis Gooses face bespoke her distress. Go and get Gabe, I told her. Hell know what to do. Gabe was in the house, helping Mama decide whether the one hundred bushels of corn she wanted to trade for three pounds of sugar was worth it. I went to the horse barn, but I didnt go in until Gabe and Sis Goose came back. Whered you come from, Uncle? Gabe asked the man, who looked old enough to be somebodys grandfather. Virginny. I comes from Virginny, came the answer. From Applegate I come. On the advice of Miz Heather. Applegate was my Virginia grandmothers plantation. Gabe scowled and ran his hands over the back of the mans mule. It had usa branded on its back. This is a fine-looking animal. Whered you get it? Miz Heather give it to me. And say to come here. She give me a message for yall. What message? from Gabe. She say that no matter what, I shud tell yall that Mister Linkum done freed the slaves nigh over a year ago now. Did she now? Gabes voice was tight, forced in its casualness. Well, to my knowledge my grandmother never had a mule with usa branded on its back. This mule is government property, Gabe told him. I came from Virginny, the old man insisted. Miz Heather, she tell me . . . Yes, yes, I know, that Mr. Lincoln freed the slaves. Ill tell you what, Uncle Then Gabe stopped and looked at us. Go on into the house, he directed us. Tell no one about this. Ill handle it. We obeyed. I said nothing to Sis Goose about it. But she did to me. Do you think hes right? she asked. I dont know. I mean, we would have heard. If not us, then Gabe or Granville. Im sure we would have heard. And so I lied to my best friend, my sister, who trusted me. Because I had heard of this before. But both Gabe and Granville had ordered me not to speak of it. The slaves free! I could not think on it all at once. It assaulted my spirit. It gave lie to everything I knew in Excerpted from Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi, Ann Rinaldi All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.