Today I want to share Opal’s Greenwood Oasis by Najah- Amatullah Hylton and Quraysh Ali Lansana with you all.
In Opal’s Greenwood Oasis we are introduced to the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma (also known as “Black Wall Street”) as it was in 1921, just before the Tulsa Race Massacre took place.
I have to be honest, I didn’t know very much about the city of Tulsa before I read this book, but now I can’t think of a better introduction than Opal’s.
Following a day in the life of a young girl named Opal Brown, we are introduced to the prosperous community of Greenwood and its happy families and busy stores as she rides her bike to the drugstore all by herself for the first time. Her descriptions of the historic businesses she passes combined with the photographs used in Skip Hill’s mixed media illustrations provide us all with a clear picture of what a vibrant, thriving Black community Greenwood was before one of the worst acts of violence in American history occurred there.
I love that the focus of Opal’s Greenwood Oasis is Opal’s joy and pride in her home, making this book feel more like a celebration of what the community was, and is today. Though there is some mention of the origins of the Tulsa Race Massacre in the narrative, the tragedy isn’t explained until the back matter, which provides a short historical explanation.
Opal’s Greenwood Oasis is published by Calliope Group, an independent publisher in Tulsa. The care and attention put into this book really highlight the love that everyone involved in making this book has for the city of Tulsa, and for the Greenwood District.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, I would highly recommend this title to teach young readers about Greenwood and the tragedy it faced.
Opal’s Greenwood Oasis is officially releases next week (February 2, 2021,) but you can preorder it today on Bookshop, Amazon, or directly from Calliope Group at thecalliopegroup.com. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)
Many thanks to The Calliope Group for providing me with a review copy of Opal’s Greenwood Oasis. It was an honor to see Greenwood for the first time through Opal’s eyes.