Children’s author and english teacher, Jerdine Nolen, has published a new book entitled Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage with illustrations by James E. Ransome.
This book follows the story of siblings Millicient and John who are born as slaves on a plantation in America. Despite their perilous situation, a bird appears to help Millicient and John gain courage and find freedom in the slave-ridden era of American history.
This book tackles the issue of slavery and the impact it had on families, a topic Ms. Nolen hopes to inform both young and older readers about.
“They teach slavery and that whole antebellum period in schools and I think it’s important for young people to see that it wasn’t just this monolithic thing. Slavery was unique from one farm to another,” Nolen commented.
Ms. Nolen connected her goal of presenting a unique story of an enslaved family to how the history of the Holocaust is presented to the mases.
“Anytime in history, when we think about Auschwitz, we think about the six million Jews and the only one we really know about is Anne Frank, because of her diary,” Nolen said.
In her book, Ms. Nolen wants readers to get a sense of who the people and families were. She additionally wants her work to inspire readers to value hope and courage, even when life is difficult.
“When you look at the way things are in the country right now, it’s not the safest place for a lot of us,” Nolen said.
While Ms. Nolen’s new book tackles the dark subject of slavery targeted at a younger audience, she commented on the structure of Grimm’s fairy tales.
“I think those guys were named Grimm for a reason. If you look at any of the fairy tales and there’s something so scary about it, but it’s soothing. Because what happens at the end? They lived happily ever after.”
Ms. Nolen wants her readers to feel optimistic, even in the darkest of situations after reading her book.
“I think the other thing is, what a victory to be able to rise above a terrible thing…”
Ms. Nolen’s book, while targeted for a younger audience, is also suitable for older readers for them to gain insight into slavery and its impacts, as well as reinforcing the importance of finding hope and courage in during difficult times. The lessons Ms. Nolen’s book promotes can be seen as applicable to an audience of all age groups.
“I think I read somewhere, or somebody told me, that it’s almost important of people of your (teen) age to read children’s books.”
“I think it’s not so difficult, it’s just that there’s hope and family is important, and sticking together and this is an intergenerational story.”
Ms. Nolen’s new book, Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage is aimed at educating readers on the topic of slavery as well as reinforcing the importance of hope and when life seems difficult, hope cannot be taken away.