Thursday, February 11, 2021

Review: The Big Day by Terry Lee Caruthers

Our world holds tons of ice and snow, at the moment, and that means more than a couple of school-free days. Which also means lots of extra time for reading!

Today's book slides perfectly into this month and the theme 'Black History Month'. When I was approached with this one, I was very excited...and when I peeked inside, I was over the moon! Read further to find out exactly what I liked about this one.

And stay warm!

by Terry Lee Carthers
Illustrated by Robert Casilla
Starbright Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

“Big day ahead!” Big Mama enthusiastically says as she wakes young Tansy. She hurries Tansy through breakfast and a bath, and dresses in her best clothes. Big Mama even wears her special brooch. But what is so special about today? 

Soon enough, Tansy learns the importance: Big Mama is voting for the first time! Based on true events, The Big Day tells the fictionalized account of Agnes Sadler, the first Black woman to vote in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 6, 1919.

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON    /    B&N     /     BOOK DEPOSITORY   


                                           * wonderfully illustrated
                                           * tale brings history to life
                                           * jackets decorated with newspaper articles
                                           * information and facts at the end offer more in depth learning


The moment I read the first page, I knew I was going to enjoy this one.

Tansy is a young girl, who's Big Mama keeps insisting for her to wake up and dress nicely for a big day. But Big Mama keeps Tansy guessing as to what the day is all about. First, when they're on their way, does Big Mama explain, very briefly, what's going on. It's a historical moment, and Tansy is about to take part in it a little herself.

This book covers women's suffrage from the view of Agnes Sadler, the first black woman to cast a vote in Knoxville, TN. And this book does an amazing job at bringing that moment to life. Taking the viewpoint of Tansy, the reader sees the timeframe from the eyes of a child, who doesn't want to wake up in the morning, eats breakfast, is told to take a bath, feels the excitement but isn't really told what is going on. In this way, the author allows the time period to take root and the reader to connect with Tansy as a normal kid, first. Then, toward the end, Tansy learns what's going on as she accompanies Big Mama, tells what happens (very briefly) at the voting center, and...what I thought was really a nice even allowed to partake herself in a fun way, which readers will easily identify with.

The illustrations are very well done and draw into the tale. This helps readers to experience the time, along with the text. The vocabulary does use words, which the family might truly use at that time, but the author keeps these lightly peppered in. This introduces some new vocabulary and a dab of history without losing the reader, since it's simple enough to identify the meaning behind the words...and there aren't enough to risk bogging the reader down.

While the story gives a nice slide into the historical moment without really going into heavy details, the information at the back of the book allows more facts for those, who want to go deeper into things. There are also newspaper articles decorating the book jacket, which add a nice touch.

This is a lovely way to introduce children to woman's suffrage and offer a peek into Black history in a way they'll enjoy and understand. 

And here they are...

The Author...
Terry Lee Caruthers, a Knoxville native and special projects librarian, was inspired to write this book after learning about Agnes Sadler’s story. 

The Illustrator...
Robert Casilla, who has illustrated over 30 children’s books, details Big Mama (Agnes) and Tansy’s day in beautiful watercolors. Casilla was recognized with a BelprĂ© Honor Award for his work in First Day in Grapes.

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