Elliott, Zetta. Melena’s Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start. Aaron Boyd, Illus. Picture Book. Tilbury, 10/2016. 26[+2]pp. PB $16.95. 978-0-884488-443-1. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-4.
Yesterday was rough for Melena; so much went wrong and everyone was mad at her, but on this morning she wakes with a “song in her heart” and big hopes for the new day. Through Melena’s subsequent choices and adventures with multicultural friends and her own African American family, Elliott weaves a joyful story of redemption and forgiveness, proving that mistakes don’t last forever and everyone deserves a fresh start. The colorful mixed-media illustrations composed of watercolor, collages and ink emphasize the facial features and expressions of each character, bringing them to life. An author’s note explains the concept of jubilee within the context of African American history and discusses how its application on a global level can be used to liberate impoverished countries from the burden of debt. A list of suggested activities for “fresh start days” provides a great opportunity for teaching generosity to young readers who are sure to recognize their own struggles and triumphs in this unique and realistic tale. Review based on an ARC.
Mahasin Aleem, Oakland Public Library