Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Listeners by Gloria Whelan - Book Review and Giveaway


"Sweet potatoes in our bellies, molasses still sweet on our mouths, we're on our way. Master and Mistress at the great house don't tell us slaves nothing. We children listen and carry back the news to our folk." - The Listeners by Gloria Whelan, Illustrated by Mike Benny

During one of the family vacations I took as a child, I visited a plantation in South Carolina. I remember the impressive moss filled trees, the large home, and the tour guides dressed in hoop dresses. As a middle grade student, I was also very aware that part of the history of the home included slavery. Today marks an important day in American history. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, thereby alerting the nation of his intention to free slaves within the rebellious states. On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation.

The Listeners, the newest picture book in the Tales of Young Americans Series, depicts the life of Ella May, a fictional slave girl living in 1860, the time right before Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States. Like so many slave children living on a plantation, Ella May helps pick cotton along with her parents. Her friends, too young for the back-breaking work, take care of the animals, watch the smallest children and run errands. But at night they take part in the most important work of all--they hide near the plantation windows and listen for news. They have little control over their own lives, but at least they can listen and report back to their families with news regarding their fate. One spectacular night they hear uplifting news and rejoice at the hope of freedom.

Shown through a child's eyes, author Gloria Whelan's portrayal of life on a plantation will help children better understand the history of slavery in America. Her lyrical descriptions are detailed enough to convey the realities of slavery like harsh masters, separation of families and hard labor without becoming overly graphic. Emotion filled illustrations by Mike Benny show the hardships, fear and sadness while also reflecting the joyous occasions of worship, family time spent together and the exciting moments of hope. The gorgeous cover artwork of Ella May in a field surrounded by cotton and glorious blue skies sets a perfect tone for the book. I did not share this title with my preschooler but plan to read it to her in a couple of years when she can more easily comprehend the subject matter. Appropriate for children in elementary school, the book is a good selection for public and elementary school libraries and also would work perfectly as a literature resource for Black History Month studies.

The Listeners provides a thought provoking introduction to the journey from slavery to freedom. The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States was a major turning-point in American history and brought on the hope for freedom, equality, and opportunity for all. That hope echoes through the pages of this book.

The Listeners by Gloria Whelan, Illustrated by Mike Benny. Sleeping Bear Press; (September 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9781585364190
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by Sleeping Bear Press (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Related links, activities and printables:
Gloria Whelan - Author Website
Mike Benny - Illustrator Website
The Listeners Teacher's Guide
New York State Library - Image of Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, 1862

Win a copy! Sleeping Bear Press/Gale Cengage Learning has kindly offered to give away (5) copies of The Listeners to Brimful Curiosities readers. 5 WINNERS!

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Four ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5 - leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Visit Sleeping Bear Press and let me know the title of another children's book that you'd like to read.
2nd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
3rd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
4th extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.

126 comments:

Anna said...

This looks like a book I would mind sharing with my daughter. Thanks for the review!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric
diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

Anna said...

I subscribe through Google Reader

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric
diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

Anna said...

I checked out the publisher's site and Where to Sleep looks adorable.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric
diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This is the first time I've heard that, about the kids listening. I would love to read more!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I also like "V is for Venus Flytrap: A Plant Alphabet"

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I follow on twitter and tweeted here:

http://twitter.com/rhapsodybooks/status/4297683823

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Alice H said...

I love that this is a book of hope - and about an important era in our nation's history. Thanks! alicedemskehansen at gmail.com

Alice H said...

Where to Sleep by Kandy Radzinski looks like a great book - thanks! alicedemskehansen at gmail.com

Mkokopelli said...

I'd love to read Cosmo's Moon to my daughter. Thanks for the great book review!

mkokopelli@aol.com

Baba said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! I would love to read it and share with the family.

Baba said...

Posted here:
http://babasfarmlife.blogspot.com/2009/09/cool-giveaways_20.html

gaby317 said...

This sounds like an interesting book and one that my niece and I will enjoy.

Thanks for the entry

gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

Infant Bibliophile said...

This book looks wonderful; I'm really enjoying the reviews I've read of it and would love a copy.

Winning Readings said...

I love kids' books that do more than just entertain! This looks like a good one...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

And we posted about this at Winning Readings:

http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2009/09/listeners_23.html

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Debbie F said...

I would love to share this with my 2 small children. Thanks!

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Donna said...

Looks like a great book. I would love to read it and then pass it to my daughter and my sister.

rubynreba said...

I like to read about this period in history and this looks like a very good book.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I would also like to get the book Where to Sleep.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

The Allen Family said...

I would so love to talk to my boys about this in a way that didn't seem like a history lesson. This book looks great!

The Allen Family said...

I'd like to read "B is for Buckaroo. A Cowboy's Alphabet." Sounds super cute.

Staci said...

This looks like a great teaching tool. I've found with most tough topics, it's best to find a good book to explain things. It definitely seems like it would be a perfect book to start a discussion.
mommastaci33(at)yahoo(dot)com

Staci said...

My son would love Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny! He loves anything about animals.
mommastaci33(at)yahoo(dot)com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Wow! I'd love to share this book with my niece and nephew. I'm really working on helping them understand what slavery was all about. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'd like to read P is for Passport. The kids at my house are very interested in other cultures.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Here's my Tweet: http://twitter.com/ASeaOfBooks/status/4332058864

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

ibeeeg said...

I would love to win this book. It sounds like a fabulous read for my children.

ibeeeg(at)gmail(dot)com

ibeeeg said...

I think Cosmo's Moon looks like a fantastic read that my little guy would love.

ibeeeg(at)gmail(dot)com

ibeeeg said...

Post a link on my blog's sidebar about this giveaway.

ibeeeg(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

This seems like a great book to share with my daughter. Thanks for the chance to win!
Zoe0825@verizon.net

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to read J is for Jack-O'-Lantern to my preschool class. Thanks for the chance to win! Zoe0825@verizon.net

Anonymous said...

I'm a follower of your blog! Keep up the great reviews!
Zoe0825@verizon.net

Rebecca N. said...

I'd love to win this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com

Rebecca N. said...

I follow on twitter and tweeted!

http://twitter.com/Sparkleglow/status/4352654757

imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com

Dawn said...

I would love to be entered in the contest. Thanks for offering!

*I follow you on Google Reader.

Dawn

baragalibrary [at] gmail [dot]com

BevE said...

I'm following on twitter : D

BevE
merryweatherbookblog@gmail.com

BevE said...

And the book that I would (for real) like to read from the Sleeping Bear Press is S is for Story - A Writer's Alphabet by Esther Hershenhorn. This way is right up my alley : D

BevE
merryweatherbookblog@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I'd love to share this with an elementary school class.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

degood said...

This sounds like a good book to read aloud with my 10 year old

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

degood said...

I would like to have the P is for Pilgrim book from the sleeping bear press

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

degood said...

I follow on twitter and tweeted

http://twitter.com/kmayans/statuses/4413550430

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

mverno said...

sounds like a great gigt eor my niece i think she would enjoy reading this
mverno@roadrunner.com

Mamushi Love said...

If I were to win this, I'd have to read it for myself before passing it along to my God-daughter. It looks like an interesting read for a younger audience.

Mia J. said...

I would love to read this with my daughter so she can learn about some American history.

flowerchild said...

i would love to read the j is for jack o lantern to my daughter..thanks
flower_child_23(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nancye said...

This looks like a book that would be helpful in teaching my kids about slavery.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I like the book "Moose on The Loose"

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I follow you on Twitter and I Tweeted

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/4463213249

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

sweetsue said...

This sounds like a thoughtful book on a sensitive subject.
smchester at gmail dot com

Darcy said...

In our home, we love books. In my opinion, my daughters can never have enough books, and this books sounds wonderful. Please enter us.

helensandemilysmommy@hotmail.com

ossmcalc said...

We would also like to read the book S is for Sooner: An Oklahoma Alphabet. I have been wanting to buy this book for ages.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I subscribe via email.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/4571080127

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) said...

I would love to read this. I grew up in the south and we studied state history every year. Slavery, the civil war, and the civil rights movement were a big theme of study each year, even starting in elementary school.
I would like for my boys to know about that history as well.

onlycancan ta hotmail tod com

PS, I'm reading Uncle Tom's Cabin right now.

Amy said...

this would be a bitter sweet and educational novel to read to my little one when he's a bit older and my nieces - now.

Carol EL said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! I would love to read it and share with the family. jelly15301@gmail.com

Jen said...

I would love to win this book. I think my daughter would like it. Thanks for the chance to win!

footejennifer at hotmail.com

Bingo said...

What a beautiful cover as well! Thanks for the review. I'd love to win this...I just found out I will be a first time grandmother in 6 months so never to early to start reading collection!

kdhaney (AT) gmail (dot) com

Bingo said...

I went to their site and MOOSE ON THE LOOSE was one of many cute books

kdhaney (AT) gmail (dot) com

Melanie said...

This book sounds wonderful! I was moved by the review and the description, so I know I would love the story, and love sharing it with my goddaughter.


clarkmurdock@yahoo.com

cass said...

Neat book and yes Plantations are amazing, they've always fascinated me.

wombatspurple at yahoo dot com

Chelsea said...

I would love this book for the hospital I volunteer at.

saulpaugh.chelsea(at)gmail(dot)com

mom2anutball said...

This looks like something my daughter would like! Thanks for the chance!
hawkgirl_16{at}hotmail{dot}com

Paula said...

This was a time in our history that I would like my children to be more aware of. Please enter me.


ryspenc@yahoo.com

lilshuga2001 said...

Sounds like an awesome book! I'd love the chance to win!! thanks for the chance!

lilshuga2001 said...

I follow and heres a tweet!!

http://twitter.com/lilshuga2001/status/4637879595

FDP 4 Life said...

we would love to read this book it sounds like a very insightful read

Candie L said...

I always look for books that teach my children about things different than they have been raised. Thank you

candieluster(at)gmail(dot)com

Candie L said...

I am an email subscriber. Thank you

candieluster(at)gmail(dot)com

Candie L said...

I like the holiday alphabet series. Thank you

candieluster(at)gmail(dot)com

bridget3496 said...

I've thought this book was amazing since the first time I saw it and would love to win it for my daughter

lilyk said...

This book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the great contest!

Donna said...

I would like to read J is for Jack-O'-Lantern.
donna444444@yahoo.com