Julius Lester

Long Journey Home

From "Louis", p. 33-4

Though the river had looked slow-moving from the bank, the current was deep and strong and threatened to send him along faster than he wanted to go. He tried rowing straight across, but the water simply pushed him downstream as if he and the boat were a stick. Rowing furiously, he discovered that if he could keep the boat at an angle, he would eventually reach the other side as the river carried the boat downstream.

It seemed to take the boat forever before it touched bottom on the other side, and the sun was up now. He was sure someone had seen him, but as he leaped from the boat and looked around, he saw no one. He scrambled up the embankment quickly and into the tall grasses at the top. He lay there for quite a while, breathing heavily. He supposed he was in free land. He didn't know what he had expected, but he thought something would be different. The grass, however, felt just like the grass on the plantation. Even if it did, he told himself, he had to be in free country. He had to be! If he wasn't, he didn't know what he was going to do. He didn't even know which way to go. All he had ever heard was "the big river." If that wasn't it, he was so lost that he would never find freedom.

Selected Works

Folk Tales
The Last Tales of Uncle Remus. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Out of print)
The last volume in the retellings of the Uncle Remus tales.
When the Beginning Began, illustrated by Emily Lisker, 1999. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
Traditional retellings and original stories around the creation story in Genesis
Long Journey Home, 1972 (Dial Books For Young Readers)
Short stories based on true stories from Black history.
This Strange New Feeling, 1982 (Scholastic Paperbacks)
Three love stories based on true stories from slavery.
Do Lord Remember Me, 1984
A novel inspired by my father's life
And All Our Wounds Forgiven, 1994.
A novel about the civil rights movement and suggested by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Othello: A Novel, 1995 (Point)
A novelization of the Shakespeare play.
Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel, 2000. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A story about the young Moses growing up in ancient Egypt.
When Dad Killed Mom, 2001. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A novel about what happens to a brother and sister when their father murders their mother.
The Autobiography of God, 2004, (St. Martin's Press)
A novel that probes the question why evil can exist if God is omnisicient, omnipresent, and All-Good.
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, 2005, (Hyperion Books)
A novel in dialogue about the largest slave auction in American history.
Time's Memory 2006 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A novel about an nyama (spirit) that comes to the United States on a slave ship.
Cupid: A Novel, (Harcourt, January, 2007)
A retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche.
Poetry and Photography
Lovesong:Becoming A Jew, 1988 (Bullfinch Press)
Story of my spiritual odyssey to Judaism.
On Writing for Children and Other People, 2005 (Dial Books)
A literary memoir discussing the relationship between my life and my writing
Picture Book
John Henry. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
The first picture book collaboration with Jerry Pinkney
Shining, Illustrations by John Clapp, 2003 (Harcourt Books)
A fable about what a young girl learns from silence.
Let's Talk About Race. Illustrated by Karen Barbour 2005 (Harper Collins/Amistad)
A book in which I talk personally about race and how to think about it. Wonderful illustrations by Karen Barbour.