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Melena's Jubilee
Cover of Melena's Jubilee
Melena's Jubilee
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Named to Bank Street College of Education's prestigious 2016 Best Children's Books of the Year with a star for outstanding merit. Named to Bayviews Outstanding List (online journal for the Association...
Named to Bank Street College of Education's prestigious 2016 Best Children's Books of the Year with a star for outstanding merit. Named to Bayviews Outstanding List (online journal for the Association...
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  • Named to Bank Street College of Education's prestigious 2016 Best Children's Books of the Year with a star for outstanding merit.

    Named to Bayviews Outstanding List (online journal for the Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California (ACL))

    2017 Skipping Stones Honor Book

    After being sent to bed early the previous night, Melena wakes up to a new day with a song in her heart.

    At breakfast she learns she has been given a "fresh start," and she decides to celebrate by doing things differently for the rest of the day. Melena chooses not to fight with her brother, and shares the money she has rather than demanding to be repaid by a less fortunate friend. This story introduces children to the concept of jubilee, which stresses the important principles of debt relief, generosity, and forgiveness. Aaron Boyd's mixed-media illustrations are as bright and vivid as a sun-washed day.

    Fountas & Pinnell Level M

About the Author-

  • Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott (Brooklyn, NY) moved to the US in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American Studies at NYU. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture book Bird. Her urban fantasy novel Ship of Souls was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth. Three books published under her own imprint, Rosetta Press, have been named Best Children's Books of the Year by the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 29, 2016
    Elliott (Bird) weaves a contemplative and thought-provoking story of new beginnings as a brown-skinned girl named Melena wakes up “with a song in my heart.” Yesterday, Melena didn’t make her bed, and stray toys on the floor led to her mother’s favorite vase being broken. This morning, all is forgiven: “I never let the sun go down on my anger,” Gramma tells Melena. Throughout the day, Melena makes conscious choices to act with kindness, generosity, and compassion, letting her brother watch TV in peace (even though he “whacked me over the head with his tennis racket” the previous week) and pooling ice cream money among friends to share a sundae. Befitting the sense of grace that Melena clings to, Boyd’s (Luigi and the Barefoot Races) vibrant mixed-media images evoke the heft and poise of stained glass windows, whether showing Melena and her elders picking garden vegetables or the girl and her friends perched on the jungle gym, gazing at swirling clouds. An extensive author’s note delves into the historical concept of jubilee and ties the book’s messages to grassroots activism, social justice, and community self-improvement. Ages 4–10.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2016
    Little Melena learns the power of a fresh start.The little black girl wakes up "with a song in her heart" before remembering that yesterday was not such a good day: she forgot to put her toys away, so Gramma's friend tripped, breaking Mama's favorite vase. But "I never let the sun go down on my anger," Gramma says, and Mama tells her she's "got a fresh start." This becomes the conscious theme for her interactions all day long, as she decides that hitting her older brother because he thumped her last week isn't in the spirit of a fresh start and that pooling money for a hot-fudge sundae split several ways is preferable to demanding that Gavin repay a loan. In Melena, Elliott creates a thoughtful, upbeat character whose impulses are convincingly childlike. In between her musings on fresh starts, she plays with her friends (a multiracial group) and helps her grandmother harvest lunch from the garden. The text is on the long side, but it encompasses diversions that both flesh out Melena's character and keep it from feeling overwhelmingly didactic. Boyd's bright, multimedia illustrations depict a warm, loving family and a cheery urban neighborhood but occasionally look muddy and do not significantly extend the text. An author's note provides context on the concept of jubilee--forgiveness--and tips for readers on making their own fresh starts. This cheerful meditation on starting over features a character that's hard not to love. (Picture book. 4-7)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2016

    K-Gr 3-Yesterday, "it seemed like everybody was mad at me," thinks Melena, but on this morning the rain has washed away the mistakes of yesterday, and there is a song in her heart. On this special day, Melena wakes up and finds that her mother and grandmother have forgiven her. This inspires her to share the peace and happiness she feels with all those around her. So when faced with the opportunity to start a fight with her brother, she refrains, and instead of demanding back money loaned to a friend, she insists that they pool their cash so they can all have an even tastier treat. The special day ends with Melena and her friends sitting atop the jungle gym together, marveling at the beauty of the world. Readers are sure to empathize with Melena as she learns from her mistakes and shares her joy with her friends and family. The artwork features delicate watercolors that place emotive faces amid bright and detailed cut-paper backgrounds. The vibrant illustrations build to a striking finale with a fantastic mixed-media sunset. Back matter includes an author's note on the origin of Jubilee and its significance to many African Americans, as well as a list of seven things readers can do to have their own "fresh start day!" VERDICT An excellent addition to any library, not just those looking to expand their collections of African American literature.-Laken Hottle, Providence Community Library

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Tilbury House Publishers
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Zetta Elliott
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