Lena and the Burning of Greenwood: A Tulsa Race Massacre Survival Story

Product Details
$9.99  $9.29
Stone Arch Books
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.4 X 0.5 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author
Nikki Shannon Smith is from Oakland, California, but she now lives in the Central Valley with her husband and two children. She has worked in Elementary Education for over twenty-five years, and writes everything from picture books to young adult novels. When she's not busy with family, work, or writing, she loves to visit the coast. The first thing she packs in her suitcase is always a book.
Markia Jenai was raised in Detroit during rough times, and found adventure through art and storytelling. After studying at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, she has made it her goal to create worlds where people of color are front and center. When she's not drawing, she like to watch documentaries, listen to Dungeons & Dragons livestreams, and read historical articles, all of which fuels her work!
On Memorial Day, 1921, 12-year-old Lena watches a gathering of clouds that portends a storm unlike any ever seen in Greenwood. In this moving story told from Lena's perspective, readers learn about the African American community of Greenwood, Oklahoma, or Black Wall Street as it came to be known. Lena lives in Greenwood with her mother, father, and 16-year-old sister, Cora. Her father often reminds her that "we have everything we need in Greenwood." They have shops aplenty, libraries, schools, parks, and, most importantly, a sense of community. One day, Lena's family hears whispers about Dick Rowland, a local Black man who was accused of assaulting a White woman. As racial tensions heighten, the residents of Greenwood fear White retribution for the alleged assault. The book moves quickly through the hours leading up to the massacre of over 300 Black people at the hands of White mobs and ends with Lena's family and her community trying to piece together what little remains of their lives. This well-plotted fictionalized account of the Tulsa Race Massacre geared at young readers is emotionally challenging but necessary. Smith's narrative deftly captures a child's emotional and psychological experience of the tragedy as well as the tenderness shared among Lena and her family members. Jenai's black-and-white digital illustrations, which appear every few pages, depict only Black characters and help readers imagine the historical setting. The thoughtful, informative backmatter will help adults lead discussions with children. An unflinching account of the Tulsa Race Massacre seen through the eyes of a young Black girl. (author's note, discussion questions, glossary) (Historical fiction. 9-12)-- "Kirkus Reviews"